Ukrainian Man in Lincoln Trying to Keep in Contact with Wife, Parents in Kyiv

March 15, 2022, 9:50 a.m. ·

A photo of Yuriy Fomin and his wife, Tetiana, in Kyiv. Yuriy is keeping in constantly contact with his wife and parents who are waiting out the war in Ukraine amid Russian attacks. (Photo courtesy Yuriy Fomin)

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Yuriy Fomin splits his time between painting for his business in Lincoln and playing in a local musician's band.

Fomin has lived all across the United States. Things seemed to stick, though, when he moved to Nebraska in 2010. However, his home and his heart are in Ukraine. That’s where he’s from.

He’s now juggling his jobs and staying in contact with his family in Kyiv, where Russian forces are focusing many of their attacks. The Ukrainian native said life felt normal when he last visited just a few months ago.

“The general kind of thought was that it will never happen,” Fomin said.

“Everyone in Ukraine, everyone who I knew and talked to, could not believe that,” he said. "The relationship with Russia and Ukraine were pretty tight for the last ten years, I would say. Still, nobody could have imagined a full-scale invasion like this."

Now, whenever he’s not working, Fomin is on the phone. Communication keeps him closely connected to family and friends, even when the war in his home country underscores the many miles between them.

His wife Tetiana is in Kyiv, looking after his elderly parents who can’t escape the Russian attacks.

“Kyiv is now in a tough spot. Russian forces are coming very close,” Fomin said. “And my understanding is they’re trying to encircle the city. Our hope is that the Ukrainian military will be strong enough and determined enough to stop that and prevent it from happening and eventually [win] the war.”

Fomin calls his family constantly, hoping they’re safe and hoping they pick up the phone.

“Hearing their voices and making sure that they’re there and they’re alive — that’s the most important thing for me,” he said. “I’m doing my best to talk to them as much as I can and try to support them with everything I can.”

Fomin thought long and hard about leaving or staying when he last visited Ukraine. He said the financial assistance he can provide his family from Lincoln is probably worth more than staying and fighting in the war.

When he calls, his family tells him about the attacks they’re seeing through their home’s windows.

“My wife actually did send me a picture about a week ago where the TV tower was bombed,” Fomin said. “The TV tower is visible from our window there. Basically, she was in the kitchen of that apartment there and saw the fireball, so she took a picture.”

Among the explosions, Fomin said there’s constant artillery noises and air defense alarms. He said multiple times he wouldn’t wish this kind of worry on any other person.

“Looking at what’s happening to other cities right now in Ukraine and all the indiscriminate bombing campaigns and the death of civilians, I certainly cannot predict anything,” he said.

Keeping in contact with Tetiana and his parents is what is getting him through this tough time right now, as well as the support from his friends and neighbors here.

At a recent show, Fomin's bandmates acknowledged the war in Ukraine. The Jason Mayer's Band told the audience their bassist is Ukrainian – with family back home.

The crowd erupted.

“It’s a very unifying experience," he said. "It’s very sad that it had to happen that way, but you can see how people come together when stuff like that happens, and it’s really uplifting. And that’s what kind of gives me strength to go through this time.”

While keeping in touch with his family every day, Fomin is also hearing from friends trying to stay alive in the country. He knows a teacher who’s staying in a bomb shelter with her son, while feeding Ukrainian troops and elderly neighbors.

Fomin said his country’s bravery is pushing him along until he can reunite with Tetiana, his parents, his cousins and his friends.