Unintentionally Divided
01 Mar 2022

We were lucky enough to work with two wonderful people on My Shrewsbury's March April magazine - little did we realise that the two women would find themselves on opposite sides of a bloody and dreadful conflict. 

The front cover image of My Shrewsbury magazine's March/April issue (pictured below) is by Russian artist Asija Vesty who has made her home in Shrewsbury – Asija went back to Russia over half term and has found herself stuck there.

We have also been fortunate to work with intern Anna Menshykova from Ukraine – a Sixth Form pupil at Adcote School, originally from Kiev, whose family escaped to California in the weeks before war broke out. We asked both for their thoughts on the current conflict in Ukraine:

Asija writes: “The 1st of March was supposed to be a very joyful day for me – the release of a cover for a Shrewsbury’s own magazine and feature that I’ve been working on for a couple of months now.

“But life got in the way, and so millions of Russians, along with the rest of the world, are clinging to their TVs and watching in horror what’s unravelling in a neighbouring country.  We (as people) love Ukraine -  the people, the culture, the food, mostly because it’s a huge part of the wider Russian identity and culture. 

"My heart, as that of all the Russians I know, aches for the people of the Ukraine and the Donbas and Lugansk regions equally and we just want this to end" – Asija Vesty 

“The country of Russia itself takes its origin from Kiev and we’re basically the same people, - Russians and Ukrainians are much closer in terms of language, culture and general personality than English and Welsh people for example. There is much more that unites us than divides us. 

“That’s why this conflict could have been prevented, if all the sides involved had just talked it out properly. As far as I can understand this has been an epic diplomatic failure. There’s been a complete breakdown of communication - people unable to listen to or hear what the other side is saying. 

“It’s painful and horrific… my heart, as that of all the Russians I know, aches for the people of the Ukraine and the Donbas and Lugansk regions equally and we just want this to end. Everyone’s in pain and nothing is worth this. #PeacePlease #Stopthewar  

“PS Putin isn't and doesn't represent all Russians. Russians don’t want war.” 

Anna writes:

It was early morning and I woke up to a message from my best friend.

She said: “Woke up to a sound of bombs today, if I’m not replying I’m in a shelter.”

My heart felt heavy. As Ukraine was attacked, I watched the news, helpless and saddened. I feel guilty, I want to be with my people, my friends, my sister, who is a single mom with two kids, hiding in an awful school basement, afraid of blaring sounds around her.

They don’t deserve this.

The Ukrainian community needs a lot of support and help. We must stand up for the most vulnerable people, as people are hiding in shelters, undergrounds crying about the lack of support.

We all have the power to help bring this appalling violation of international law to a swift end. My friends are just trying to escape a war that none of them asked for.

I see streets where I grew up getting destroyed, residential apartments being hit by missiles and a children’s cancer hospital struck by Russian artillery fire. Seeing my city under fire from multiple-launch rocket systems does not seem believable, as so not long ago I was planning to reunite with my friends this half term in Kyiv. Fortunately, I did not go, but my closest friend did.  

She knew the risks, but she could not imagine not being with her family in those intense times. Now, she’s texting me from a bomb shelter, asking me to do everything I can to spread real information and raise my voice in my community here in the UK. 

I AM PROUD TO BE UKRAINIAN! Our lives will never be the same, the pain is strong, but we have enough power to stand tall and defend ourselves. My only request is not to be aside, do every little thing you can, the Good has to win, I believe, I am praying.

Ukraine is defending the whole of Europe now, and all we ask is to defend us too. You can do more than you think you can. Each and every one of us should be reading, learning and acting opposed to the crime against humanity. Protest in your home countries. Write to government officials and if you can please support the military economically. 

Ukraine will never be defeated because:

A Ukrainian woman said to a Russian soldier:

“Put some seeds in your pockets, so when you die they will sprout into sunflowers!”

Pictured below is My Shrewsbury magazine March/April front cover design by Asija Vesty

My Shrewsbury March April issue front cover by Asija Vesty