Ukrainians in Wollongong fear tragedy of ‘massive proportions’ in their homeland | Mercury of Illawarra



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Ukrainians in Illawarra are “petrified” after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s public address on Tuesday morning, Father Simon Ckuj said. Father Simon is the priest in charge of the small Ukrainian Catholic community in Illawarra and fears the tragedy of all-out war will follow escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine. “People are going to die, innocent people are going to die,” he said. “This includes Russian soldiers who will be returned to their mothers in body bags, and Ukrainians who will die defending their homeland. ‘This is a tragedy of enormous proportions.'” The congregation voiced their fears in January. many, it was as if the trauma of chaos, war and displacement that had scarred their parents’ lives was beginning to recur again. Even halfway around the world, they struggled to feel entirely safe. and were busy with concerns for their families in Ukraine.”It is very personal for so many in our community,” Fr. Simon said. “We prayed, we hoped, we pleaded with the governments in Australia and around the world to take decisive action. “The rhetoric coming out of Moscow is petrifying, it’s worse than anyone would have expected. Putin denies that Ukraine ever existed as a nation.” On Tuesday morning, Mr Putin said the Kremlin had recognized the independence of two regions in eastern Ukraine. While Father Simon acknowledged that Ukraine was not a perfect democracy, he said there was a genuine desire to improve the country, which had been undermined by Russian involvement. “I’m a Catholic priest, not an expert in international relations, but people are suffering,” he said. “In Ukraine, in Russia, in Australia and here in Wollongong. “What he said (about the eastern regions) is a violation of Ukrainian sovereignty. They are not separatists, they are puppet states run by Russian nationals. It’s smoke and mirrors.” Father Simon had little hope that the emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council scheduled for Tuesday at 2 p.m. (Australian time) could help. “Many states depend on Russia, for trade, for gas,” he said. “The UN has been very quiet for a while. “Australia is best placed to help through humanitarian aid, trade and financial sanctions and non-lethal military support,” Fr Simon said. “Australia has already done a lot – applying more diplomatic pressure would be a great support.” To read more stories, download the Illawarra Mercury news app from the Apple Store or Google Play. Sign up to receive news emails below…


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