Ukrainian lawmaker fights for Kharkiv in public speeches

Mariia Mentseva is a face of Ukraine. At just 34 years old and a member of Ukraine’s parliament, her formal tasks include looking into ways Ukraine can integrate into the rest of Europe’s institutions. But, what really has gotten her attention are her posts about her hometown, Kharkiv. It has a population of 1.3 million people, just 20 miles from the northeast border. From the beginning, Russia wanted to take it over. In 2022, Ukrainians pushed them back. However, in recent months, Russian attacks have grown furious, knocking out residential areas, power infrastructure, even the city’s huge TV tower. Moscow, in fact, made clear it has wanted to turn Kharkiv into a demilitariized zone so it would not threaten Russia. Critics said Moscow has tried to turn Kharkiv into Aleppo, the Syrian rebel stronghold Russia flattened in its support of Assad in Damascus. Mentseva regularly has posted shots of damage, rescue and relief efforts in Kharkiv, branding Russian efforts “genocidal actions.” She generally has exuded hope, especially for the recent package of U.S. aid for Ukraine which would benefit her home area. The package, Mentseva said, “will serve the purpose for sure.” Basically, for the time being at least, it will keep the city alive.