Ukrainian community in Manitoba concerned over threat of Russian invasion
Tensions in eastern Europe remain high over the threat of a Russian invasion in Ukraine.
The situation is hitting close to home for many members of the Ukrainian community in Manitoba, who are keeping a close eye on developments overseas.
Dmytro Malyk, a volunteer with the Manitoba chapter of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, has been in contact with his parents and relatives who still live in the country.
“They’re concerned, they’re not panicking but they’re concerned,” said Malyk.
Malyk said his family sees the Russian military presence along the border as a new wave of escalation amid ongoing conflict over Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014 — the same year Malyk immigrated to Winnipeg.
He said economic and political sanctions against Russia aren’t working but remains hopeful diplomacy will prevail.
“What we are hearing in the news is the concerns, the risks are even higher — that the risk of invasion seems to inevitable, however, I still believe it can be avoided,” Malyk said.
Russia wants to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO but has denied it plans to invade.
The Ukrainian Canadian Congress held a small outdoor rally Sunday in Winnipeg to show support and solidarity with Ukraine and to call on Canada and the international community for more help.
Yevgeniya Tatarenko was among those in attendance. She has lived in Morden, Man. for five and a half years but the tensions overseas are hitting far too close to home.
“My mom lives just a few hundred kilometres from the war line,” Tatarenko said.
She said her mom isn’t sure what to do but is making plans to leave the country in a worst-case scenario.
“But I think most Ukrainians know they’re not scared anymore so they’re worried but they are not panicking,” she said.
The Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is also watching the situation closely, according to Annie Loewen the organization’s interim director of disaster response.
Loewen said MCC already has personnel offering humanitarian aid stemming from the ongoing conflict with Russia dating back to 2014 and is prepared to step up with more help if needed.
“Certainly if things decline in the areas we will try to support as many people as we can through ongoing assistance,” Loewen said.
But many in Winnipeg are still hoping any further conflict can be averted.
Canada’s role in protecting Ukraine will be the focus of a virtual town hall Tuesday night featuring Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister, and members of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress who will also be participating.
More information and registration for the town hall is available online.
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