Ukranian group in Madison reacts to plane crash

Children, chaperone, interpreter return home in a week
Ukranian group in Madison reacts to plane crash

The news of the crash of a Malaysia Airlines flight in the Ukraine was alarming to a group visiting Madison from the region.

A group of children, along with a chaperone and interpreter, have been in the Madison area for a month as part of the Circle of Love: Children of Chernobyl program.

Larysa Voloshyna is the translator who is helping get the children through doctor visits and helping teach English. She heard about the plane crash Thursday afternoon.

“I’m shocked, really shocked,” Voloshyna said.

Voloshyna and the children are from Borodyanka, which is a small town about 60 miles from Ukraine’s capital of Kiev. She said Ukranian unrest took her by surprise when it began weeks ago.

“We were also very scared,” Voloshyna said. “Scared of the war. Adults and old people who remember the (Second World War) were very afraid.”

Now after seeing pictures of a commercial jet likely shot down by a missile, she can only think it is separatists or Russians supporting the rebellion that are responsible.

“I think that Ukranian people, Ukranian soldiers, Ukranian army, I think they couldn’t,” Voloshyna said. “It’s impossible they shot the plane because they are not interested in such a great international scandal.”

International relations expert and University of Wisconsin professor Jon Pevehouse said it is likely the U.S. gets further involved in the region, but not likely an escalation leads to war.

“There’s still a lot of things that both Russia and the U.S. have in common — interests economically, politically and militarily” Pevehouse said. “I don’t think either side will allow the Ukraine situation to boil over into a shooting war or even back to where we were in the Cold War. But I do think you’ll see tensions reemerge.”

As for Voloshyna, she and the children will return home in a week.

“We are afraid of going home, but we have to go,” Voloshyna said. “We have to stay together.”

The group also has to fly through Amsterdam to get home, which is where the flight that crashed originated from.