As the Russian war against Ukraine hits a year mark on Feb. 24, Delaware Valley Ukrainian community members are taking action to encourage America’s continued support to their beleaguered homeland.
Eugene Luciw, a Towamencin resident, is the son of Ukrainian immigrants. He is also president of the Philadelphia branch of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America and director of external relations for the Ukrainian Sports Center and Ukrainian National Soccer Club in Horsham.
He said he is thankful America and Western Europe have been helping Ukraine with military aid to stave off the Russian army. And, he said, it is “extremely important” that assistance continues. The war continues relentlessly as neither Russia nor Ukraine shows signs of surrendering.
Congress has approved $113 billion in aid to Ukraine since the war began, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
The tanks that the U.S., Britain, and France recently approved for Ukraine will help with an offensive action to “push them off Ukrainian soil,” Luciw said.
“That is the objective. We cannot allow any Ukrainian soil to be kept in the hands of the Russians because they’ve proven themselves to be genocidal. They are clearing those areas and trying to eliminate Ukrainian nationalism. More than 260,000 Ukrainian children have been deported into Russia.”
Millions of Ukrainians are imprisoned in Russia’s “filtration camps,” he said.
“We’re happy President Biden is supporting us,” he said. “And our friends in Europe are now imposing additional sanctions. They are beginning to recognize Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.”
Helping Ukraine is morally right, he said.
“Americans are great protectors of democracy and peace around the world,” said Luciw. “So it’s our obligation,” he said. “On the other hand, all Americans are practical. I can guarantee that an investment in Ukraine will produce abundant dividends. After Ukraine wins the war and pushes the Russians out, the Western world, led by the United States, not unlike the Marshall Plan, will rebuild and restore Ukraine. And Ukraine will restore itself. It’s a place of abundant resources.”
“Ukraine is going to be a powerhouse in Europe,” he said. “It’s an investment in our economic future.”
And as for Vladimir Putin threatening nuclear war, that is just “saber rattling,” he said. He believes Putin will not risk the response from western countries if he used nuclear weapons.
“Our Ukrainian American community will be solemnly commemorating this gruesome milestone date with a series of events,” he said.
The Ukrainian Educational & Cultural Center is inviting the public to their ‘Stand with Ukraine Candlelight Vigil – One Year of War’ Event on February 24 at 6 p.m. at the UECC, 700 N. Cedar Road, Jenkintown.
“Since the beginning of the war, the UECC has become the hub for the Ukrainian American community in the Philadelphia area, as it was envisioned to be when established 42 years ago. On behalf of the Ukrainian community of the Delaware Valley, the Board of Directors thanks our supporters for their generosity and aid for the people of our ancestral homeland,” stated Natalie Firko, president of the board of directors of the UECC. ”We invite all who support our war-torn Ukraine to gather on this day.”
At 9 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25, buses will carry people to Washington, D.C., for a rally at the Lincoln Memorial in support of Ukraine. Tickets can be ordered here.
On Sun., Feb 26, joint prayers will be at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 830 N. Franklin Street in Philadelphia, followed by a rally at 12:30 p.m. Supporters will march from the Cathedral to the Liberty Bell. Also, on Sunday at 3 p.m., a musical performance, “The 365th of February,” Music of the Unbroken, organized by the Ukrainian Library, will be held at the UECC.
Other places around the world will also observe the war’s anniversary. The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) declared February 24 a day of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving will be held in all dioceses and exarchates of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church throughout the world.