THUNDER BAY — One year after a Russian invasion that many expected would crush Ukrainian defenses within days or weeks began, the conflict drags on.
And while Friday's anniversary is a proud milestone of endurance for Ukrainians, it’s one Walter Warywoda hopes he’ll never have to mark again.
“It’s been a year of resistance and resilience by the Ukrainian people,” the president of the Thunder Bay branch of the League of Ukrainian Canadians said in an interview on Thursday.
“We’re hopeful this will be the only year we’ll have to recognize this type of anniversary, and hopefully the invasion will come to an end properly.”
As to how that end could come about, Warywoda said there’s only one right way.
“An unprovoked attack upon a peaceful nation is totally unacceptable, so the resolution would be a total withdrawal of [Russian] forces from all Ukrainian territory.”
He added “some restitution for the incredible damages that have been inflicted upon the nation and its people” should also be on the table
After Russian forces appeared on the verge of encircling the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv early in 2022, Ukrainian forces mounted a fierce resistance that has recaptured significant swaths of territory.
Russia continues to occupy much of the southeast of Ukraine, however, and there’s no indication yet of any détente, while the number of people killed or wounded rises into the hundreds of thousands.
In the meantime, Warywoda and other Canadians have focused on what they can do to help those impacted by the conflict, the largest in Europe since the end of the Second World War.
That’s included efforts to welcome those fleeing the war, with Warywoda estimating around 100 Ukrainians have settled in the Thunder Bay area since fighting began.
He said the Ukrainian community is “very grateful” for what Canadians, and their government, have done.
Canada immediately condemned the invasion and has provided material aid including over $1 billion in military assistance, as well as accommodating thousands of those displaced by the conflict.
The country has also joined in sanctions meant to discourage the Russian invasion.
“The support Canada and the western countries have provided to Ukrainians has been incredible, quite frankly — It’s been continuous, and the need is continuous,” Warywoda said.