The Russian invasion has hit close to home for Ukrainian-Canadians. Many are shocked by what they’re seeing and wondering how long Ukrainian forces can hold out.
For nearly five decades, Kingstonians and others have embraced Ukraine and its traditions, culture, food, and more at the Ukraine “Folklore” Festival.
Those happier times here have now been replaced by an ever-changing situation in Ukraine that has plenty of people watching including some here in Kingston.
“I don’t think I ever thought I would live to see such a day,” said Lubomyr Luciuk, president of the Ukrainian-Canadian Club of Kingston.
“It’s shaken me to my very core.”
Luciuk, a professor in the department of political science at Royal Military College, described the conflict as a brutal invasion.
“Mr. Putin has declared war, has launched a full-scale invasion against Ukraine,” he said.
“Bombs are landing, missiles are landing, all across Ukraine and people are dying. For what? Because Mr. Putin wants to create some sort of empire in the 21st century.”
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Jane Boulden, a political science professor at Queen’s University and Royal Military College, said the invasion is no surprise and that many people saw it coming.
“For some time now — weeks if not months — the build-up around Ukraine has been in place,” Boulden said.
The Russians deployed 190,000 troops and associated equipment ahead of the invasion, she said.
“That’s a lot of military equipment and people,” she said Thursday. “Everybody held out hope until last night really that there might just be a show of force, and it has turned out not to be the case.”
“President Biden of the United States has called Mr. Putin a killer — and he is,” Luciuk added.
Boulden called him a “KGB man in the Kremlin” and a “war criminal, a man that needs to be brought to justice.”
“Meanwhile,” she added, “Ukraine needs to be defended and I hope that’s not left only to the Ukrainians.”
Many Canadians have connections to Ukraine, and emotions are raw. For now, all they can do is wait and watch as that county turns into a war zone.