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"It's a war, it’s death": Ukrainian Church parishioners discuss invasion

"It's a war, it’s death": Ukrainian Church parishioners discuss invasion
Posted at 6:24 PM, Feb 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-26 00:26:44-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Russia’s invasion of Ukraine hits close to home for many in the Ukrainian American Society of Tucson.

I spoke with one Ukrainian couple in Tucson who still have family and friends in Kyiv. They say no matter what, Ukrainians will fight to the death for their independence and freedom.

“It’s devastating, I feel helpless to do anything for them,” said Ukrainian Natalya Bannick.

Bannick was born in Kyiv, Ukraine and came to the united states in 2001. Most of her family still lives there. She says her mother has taken shelter in her basement every day since the invasion.

“Every time I talk to her I don’t know if I'll see her again," Natalya Bannick said. "So I tell her I love her and I’m telling that to all my family right now.”

Natalya is one of many who are seeking peace at the St. Michael Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church in Tucson.

“Human beings are also capable of great beauty and great goodness," said Father Nicholas Kostyk, Pastor of the Church. "And we need to be reminded of that in moments of darkness like this.”

Many parishioners say they’re shocked by what’s happening in Ukraine. But Natalya’s husband, Nikolai Bannick, says he saw this coming.

“This war begins a long time ago and it’s never stopped,” he said.

Nikolai was drafted into the Soviet army and served from 1985-1987. He’s worried this invasion will escalate into something nuclear.

“Whoever had the chance to see how people die, I had that, my friend in the army died in my hands he had a wound on the chest," Nikolai Bannick said. "They know that it stings. It's bad. It’s not a joke, it's a war, it’s death.”

The Bannicks say the world needs to take action, or else nothing will stop Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“That evil person has to be stopped and not by political sanctions, by power,” Nikolai Bannick said.

The Church is collecting donations to send to humanitarian organizations in Ukraine. If you'd like to donate:

Write a check to the "Ukrainian Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia" and send it to the office at 810 North Franklin Street, Philadelphia PA 19123. Write on the check "Humanitarian Aid Fund for Ukraine". You can also donate during collection at Church services.