Portraits of Minnesota Ukrainians

Twin Cities residents with Ukrainian ties react to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Ukrainians are a strong and unified people who have endured numerous wars in the past century. People of Ukrainian descent are spread across the globe. In the Twin Cities, they agree that although they live here, their hearts are rooted in Ukraine. On Thursday, Russian forces invaded their homeland, sending a wave of shock, grief and anger through their closely knit and passionate community. This is a collection of their faces, stories, thoughts and feelings as they struggle to come to grips with the crisis.

“I was born in Ukraine and left during World War II, and I just cannot believe that it’s the same thing going on now that was going on at that time. … We did not expect this.” Irma Korsunsky
“I’m trying to feel unified like our president in Ukraine said we should be at this time.” Safia Dockter
“It’s mind numbing. It’s anesthetizing. It’s horrific. It defies description and logic. I’m glad my parents died; they almost died many times during [World War II] to get here. I can’t imagine how tortured they would have been … by the horror developing in front of our eyes.” Andrij Karkoc
“I think I’m trying to feel strong and be supportive to people that are there.” Olena Burban, who was born in Ukraine before immigrating to the United States
 “I am very sad, this didn’t have to happen. It’s bullying beyond belief.” Andy Williams
“I’m not surprised. Russia has acted the same for the last century … but I’m surprised that Putin decided to start now. But we will not give up. We will fight to the last man.” Vasyl Dyachuk, who was born in Ukraine and immigrated to the United States to escape communism. “People compare [Putin] to Hitler, but Hitler didn’t have nuclear weapons. Putin does. War should be stopped today, because tomorrow is too late.”
“We have been around for 400 more years than Moscow has even existed, and once again, this sacred land of ours is being desecrated. It’s maddening that the entire world is shouting and yet there is just political chess.” Halina Yarr Alexejun
“This is just another attempt by the invaders from the North to quash a reality on the ground that can never be. Ukrainians exist as a nation, and they will prevail.” Stefan Iwaskewycz 
“I’m so sad and heartbroken because I know how wonderful the Ukrainian people are and they built that country to be as beautiful as it is.” Linda Zastawny