BETHLEHEM, N.Y.(NEWS10) – Ukrainians in the Capital Region and across the world are set to celebrate Orthodox Christmas as the country faces almost a year of war after Russia’s 2022 invasion. A panel in Bethlehem explains why they think the war is not what we see it as. But NEWS10 speaking with a Russian native who escaped to the United States with a very different take. 

The John Connolly forum with Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace hosting Scott Ritter and Dan Kovalik to share their view on the war. ritter who was removed from twitter for allegedly saying the Bucha massacre in Ukraine was caused by Ukrainians opened with the following statement. 

“The First Amendment to the Constitution is freedom of speech and that’s sort of what we’re doing here tonight. We’re engaged in a process of free speech,” Ritter

The youngest in attendance had the first question of the night but instead opened with an impactful statement by saying, “Putin and the president of Ukraine want war. The civilians of Russia and Ukraine do not want war”.

Shlokov Semen who escaped Russian mobilization by fleeing to the United States has had everything about him and who he is stripped away by his choice to flee, and he has a different take from ritter. 

“Recognizing that there’s a war between Ukraine and Russia, Russia will more than likely win,” claims Ritter.

“I’m completely against this war it was a war that was starting by Putin it’s a terrorist War it’s a war of genocide as a patriot of Russia I consider myself a Russian Patriot the best thing for Russia is for this war to be won by Ukraine and for Russian troops to exit Ukraine and for the regime change to happen in the Russian Federation,” exclaimed Semen.

Semen recounts his journey to the Georgian border, a neighboring NATO ally.

“We reached the border by car and there was a huge line to get to the border of Georgia. A whole lot of men [are] looking to leave Russia. And it was scary because there is a Russian military unit there. And we didn’t know what could happen to us. We were able to pass all the cars we had to walk about four hours to reach the end of the car line and cross into the border,” recalls Semen.

And as far as an end to the war, Semen tells NEWS10 that he is confident in a Ukrainian victory but fears a second mobilization.

“The second wave of mobilization will be less open. It’s going to be more of a mobilization but won’t be as public as the first wave, which had very negative circumstances that people were against,” said Semen.

The war on Ukraine continues to wage on and soldiers on both sides are dying.