Artem Laptiev didn’t sleep last night. The MIT student from Ukraine was worried about his friends and family after Russia launched an attack on his home country.
“It really doesn't feel like I'm in the state of reality right now,” he told hosts Paris Alston and Jeremy Siegel on Morning Edition today. “It just feels like I'm kind of in this dream and at any moment I might just wake up.”
Laptiev said his friends and family are currently safe and trying “to be strong in this tough moment.” But he’s worried about the fate of his country.
“This kind of situation, everything is at stake, literally everything,” he said. “It feels like my life ... probably already turned into a whole different reality of what it is.”
At MIT, the Ukrainian community has been gathering to support each other and gather resources and information. But, “we really feel helpless here,” Laptiev said.
He said he is grateful for the United States' support of Ukraine and its sanctions against the Russian government. He encourages Americans to support the Ukrainian military in any way they can.
“If this attack is not stopped at this point, this has a potential to grow into something much bigger and much larger until [Russia] can go way out of control,” he said.
Laptiev witnessed Ukraine's Maidan Revolution in 2014, when President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted and the country was pushed closer to the West.
“Ever since then, Ukraine has been filled with this very strong love for the country and very strong hopes,” he said. “I really view the Russian attack on Ukraine as an attack on really everybody who is fighting for freedom and fighting for democracy.”
Siegel asked Laptiev about what his home country means to him and what could be lost in the invasion.
“[Ukraine] is beautiful place of culture and of such rich culture and such a strong technological power,” he said. “All of my best experiences of my life were connected to Ukraine. It’s really hard to convey this with words.”