YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — WKBN’s Kyle Alexander spoke with Father Lubomir Zhybak of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church nearly a month ago.
He didn’t have much concern at that time about a Russian invasion. However, when WKBN spoke to him on February 19, he had a very different perspective.
He believed the invasion would come after recent developments last week, such as the bombing of a school in Donbass and the growing Russian military presence. Economic factors have a lot to do with this invasion.
However, Father Lubomir says there is a much bigger issue at the center of this conflict.
“It’s not about cheaper gasoline at the pump. It is about defending human dignity, defending all these authentically true human values, defending the human being as such, because what is attacked, who is attacked is a human person,” Zhybak said.
Father Lubomir has family in Ukraine. He said he could only imagine their fears as tensions soared so far.
WKBN also spoke to Fr. Ivan Tchopko of Sts. Ukrainian Orthodox Peter and Paul Church. A month ago, he wasn’t too worried about the possibility of an invasion.
He links these tensions to previous Russian invasions of Donbass and Crimea. Now that Russia has launched military operations in Ukraine, he says all Ukrainians want is independence.
“Ukrainians, they want to be Ukrainians, they don’t want to be subjected to another nation for what they have been for so many years and now, after 30 years of independence, they want to have their own freedom to choose or how they conduct their own country,” Tchopko said.
Father Ivan also says that Ukrainians of all ages are ready to fight. He and Father Lubomir said Ukraine was not acting as an aggressor, but rather as a defender of their land.