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Ukrainians in San Diego find hope in Biden's visit to Ukraine

Orysya Barua said she was surprised to see video of U.S. President Joe Biden walking around Ukraine's capitol on Monday with his Ukrainian counterpart, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Barua is a board member at the House of Ukraine in Balboa Park, which has been a local center of efforts to help Ukraine. She said Biden's visit sends an incredible message of hope.

"It shows solidarity. It shows the good should prevail, and I think that hopefully it’s a sign to Russia to stop this (war)," she said.


Barua was not the only local Ukrainian who was surprised by the visit. So was Ukrainian historian Ihor Lylo, who is currently in residence at UC San Diego.

Lylo said this moment is one for the books: Biden is the first American president to visit Ukraine since George W. Bush. It's also the first time in modern American history that a U.S. president visited a country involved in a war without American troops.

Lylo said there is no doubt the symbolism is powerful.

"This short visit just shows for all of Ukrainians we have hope," Lylo said. "We are responsible about Ukraine, we stand with Ukraine ... In the time of war, we use a different kind of weapon, one of the most important kind of weapons — it’s hope.  

"It's the first moment when Ukraine is a part of the West, when Ukraine has allies, when Ukraine has friends, when Ukraine has the support of all of the people of the world and it's a moment which President Biden represents the most influential country in the West."


He also compared reluctance to send aid to Ukraine to the U.S. entering WWII.

"The United States (was) not to be very happy to be part of the Second World War, except the moment when Pearl Harbor happened," Lylo said. "So if we tolerate the evil like Putin, like Russia today, we will pay more in the future."

Barua said she hopes that future will be different for her daughter.

"I remember my grandma's stories (of) when the Soviet Union came to the western part of Ukraine," she said. "And now I have to tell my child the same stories. I hope my daughter’s kids are not going to hear these stories and have to deal with what we’re all dealing with right now."