Alum Valua Chuk

2007 Richmond graduate re-ups to fight for Ukraine

March 25, 2022


When Russia appeared to be preparing for an invasion of Ukraine, Valua Chuk, a 2007 University of Richmond graduate and native Ukrainian, volunteered to fight.

“It is my country. Somebody has to,” Chuk said.

He first volunteered to join the military effort after Russia invaded Crimea in 2014. Chuk spent six months on the front lines, then retired and returned to his home just outside of Kyiv.   

He’s a much different man this time around. He now has a 6-year-old daughter, who woke up to her home shaking as missiles struck an area defense base just a few miles away on Feb. 24, when the invasion began. 

“It’s a trauma for her,” Chuk said. That day, his wife, mother-in-law, and daughter left Kyiv and began driving west. “They hear missiles flying overhead. Every bump in the road, my daughter cries and asks whether it’s a bomb.”

But, Chuk is just grateful that they are alive and safe.

“We managed to move my daughter out of the country quite fast,” he said. “There are millions of kids around the country that have it so much worse.”

Since the invasion, more than 2 million people have fled the country, according to the UN, and hundreds of thousands are without power, water, or electricity. But Chuk is determined and says he is not alone. 

“The whole country is under fire,” he said. “Major cities are being bombed, densely populated areas are being destroyed, so the civilians are suffering all across the country. It’s really, really bad,” he said. “But spirits are incredibly high. Whenever there is a danger, or we’re being attacked, the people of Ukraine are strong.”

He fights for his daughter, his family, and the future of Ukraine, he said. 

“For the Ukrainians across the world, we want to make sure that when they are ready to come back, that Ukraine is still around to come back to,” he said. “I’m incredibly proud of my nation. People have no fear. Everybody’s dedicated and believes in the victory no matter what.”