Philadelphia's Ukrainian community worries as tensions rise between Ukraine and Russia

Troops in the United States are on high alert over escalating tensions between Ukraine and Russia. Local leaders in Philadelphia’s Ukrainian community are worried.

"Somebody’s getting ready for a big battle. And, what would anybody feel like? Before a major war? To that locality – WWII. It’s fear and anxiety! It’s what do I do?" explained Eugene Luciw, with the Philadelphia chapter of the Ukrainian-American Congress.

Philadelphia’s Ukrainian-American community is tense as 100,000 Russian soldiers are on the Ukrainian border with Belarus. Luciw says it’s the next step in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plan to reunite the Soviet Union.


"He needs to get through Ukraine and if he gets Ukraine, he becomes an empire. Ukraine is full of the resources he needs to become an empire. And, not just a big country with a gasoline station. So, this is big to him," Luciw commented.

Ukrainian forces have waged an ongoing battle with Russian soldiers since the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014. Thousands have died and Philly’s Ukrainians feel it.

It’s thousands of miles away, but Ukrainians in North Philadelphia will not let the war being fought at home get too far out of mind.

"This is a country that receives poor people. That is multi-ethnic. Democratic with a free press. And, this is what Russia wants to crush," stated Borys Gudziak, Archbishop at Ukrainian Catholic Church in the United States and Head of the Department of External Church Relations with the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.

Gudziak also founded Ukrainian Catholic University, where he says students have resisted Russian influence for decades as they resist soldiers on the Ukrainian border now. That’s an example to neighboring Russians that Putin fears and he says Ukraine won’t bend.

"Nobody is at peace today in Ukraine. But, they’re also not falling apart. They are not despondent. They know that they have to defend themselves and they’re asking friends in the world if you want democracy to grow, and you don’t want this totalitarianism to spread, to please help us," Gudziak explained.

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