The day after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began, Honorary Consul of Ukraine Jonathan Freedman denounced the invasion and repudiated any notion that Ukraine is at fault for the battle.
“These occasions of aggression are terribly unhappy and unlucky for harmless Ukrainian households which are simply attempting to steer their lives,” he advised The Salt Lake Tribune Thursday. “They didn’t ask for this. They did nothing to provoke an assault. It’s bullying at its rawest kind. It’s fully unprovoked.”
Freedman has served as an honorary consul of Ukraine since 2008, after residing within the nation as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1993 to 1995. He mentioned he served primarily in jap Ukraine, within the metropolis of Donetsk, a area that Russian President Vladimir Putin acknowledged as unbiased on Monday as a pretext for invasion.
Freedman joined others in Utah who spoke out Thursday in opposition to Russia’s assault on Ukraine.
Freedman has stored involved with folks there and described the messages he has acquired for the reason that invasion started, saying, “The folks in Ukraine are frightened. They’re frightened actually for his or her lives, for his or her youngsters. … It’s actually unhappy, as a result of at this level they don’t have any choices. And so they’re actually simply caught.”
Freedman famous that Utah is house to round 1,500 Ukrainians, lots of whom presently worry for his or her family and friends nonetheless residing within the nation. Two of these Ukrainians are Irina Slaughter and her daughter, Elena Nazarenko.
Slaughter moved to Utah along with her daughter about 18 years in the past when her daughter was 13. Slaughter’s mom and her aunt live in Odesa, a metropolis within the southern area of the nation.
Slaughter mentioned her mom advised her their metropolis is “largely quiet,” and their transportation remains to be functioning, though they’ve heard bombs.
“I’m simply appalled with the way in which Putin dealt with the scenario,” Slaughter mentioned. “My mother, she is optimistic, she’s hoping [for] a constructive and peaceable results of the scenario… She hopes and believes that will probably be resolved, possibly, in every week and is constructive they are going to come to some settlement.”
Slaughter feels that sanctions from the UK and US are a superb begin in responding to the invasion, however she needs international locations would’ve stepped in earlier relating to Russia’s actions — significantly with the development of a fuel pipeline connecting Russia to Germany, which she mentioned was aimed to “strangle the Ukrainian financial system.”
“Ukraine is unquestionably underpowered, in comparison with Russia,” Nazarenko mentioned. “There’s no query that Putin is a bully. He’s making excuses to invade Ukraine with out justification.”
When requested what Utahns may do to assist the embattled nation, Slaughter requested that folks simply hold the folks of Ukraine and its troopers of their ideas. Freedman additionally urged folks to telephone their representatives and ask for assist for Ukraine.
“We encourage folks to name the White Home,” he mentioned, “to name our two senators in Utah and to ask for stronger sanctions, to ask for navy and humanitarian assist to Ukraine, to, fairly frankly, pray for Ukraine and for Ukrainians and for his or her nation, which could be very a lot prone to being misplaced.”
Freedman has additionally been involved with the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, D.C., and its ambassador, who’s working to fight misinformation in regards to the battle.
“On this somber morning, my coronary heart is breaking and my ideas are with the folks of Ukraine,” Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson mentioned in an announcement Thursday. “This premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified act of conflict should unite us in compassion, as collectively we stand in opposition to tyranny.”
Daniel Gibbons, a former Holladay Justice Court docket choose and training legal professional, taught regulation college students in Ukraine yearly for greater than a decade between 2006 to 2017. He additionally served as a Latter-day Saint mission president in Russia from 2011 to 2014.
He mentioned Thursday he wasn’t shocked by Russian forces invading Ukraine. He mentioned he noticed indicators it may occur for years, starting in regards to the time his mission presidency ended and Russia annexed Crimea.
He noticed a “marked improve” in what he referred to as “governmental scrutiny and detention.” Gibbons mentioned authorities detained him, his spouse and different American missionaries a number of occasions.
He mentioned that he additionally heard from jap Ukrainians who supported the thought of absorbing the Russian-speaking components of their nation into the Russian Federation. However he famous how totally different his conversations had been with these he’s spoken in Russia and Ukraine.
“The Ukrainians are outraged. They’re vocal. They’re standing robust,” he mentioned. “The odd Russian residents that I’ve talked to, which are mates of mine, are very reluctant to talk out. They’re reluctant to place a goal on themselves. In addition they, it’s fairly clear to me, are getting a filtered model of the information.”
He referred to as the invasion “essentially the most important geopolitical occasion in Europe since World World II” and feared it may undo he and Utah County Lawyer David Leavitt’s years of labor instructing the American authorized system to regulation college students in Ukraine.
Leavitt and his spouse, Chelom, based the group that introduced Gibbons to Ukraine to show, and Leavitt additionally spent greater than a decade there instructing regulation college students.
The county legal professional mentioned he spent Thursday morning attempting to succeed in his mates there to ensure they’re protected. It left him feeling helpless.
“I’m extraordinarily unhappy,” Leavitt mentioned. “A few of my dearest mates on this planet are actually fleeing for his or her lives as we communicate.”
He mentioned he was consuming rooster soup with a lady and her son of their condo three weeks in the past who’re “now within the lengthy visitors jam attempting to get out of Kyiv to get to Poland.”
Leavitt owns an condo in Kyiv, and traveled there final month to gather paperwork proving possession of that condo and different private objects as threats of the Russian invasion loomed. He ended up caught in Amsterdam for every week on his journey again to Utah as a result of he examined constructive for COVID-19.
Throughout his years in Ukraine, Leavitt mentioned he taught regulation college students the ideas of American jury trials, exhibiting them how courtroom methods work with out bribes.
He mentioned, “When regulation college students in Ukraine come to the belief that we’re asking them to not take part in a corrupt system…it turns into a really somber and solemn second for them.”
Thursday was additionally a somber day for Leavitt, who mentioned his time in Ukraine influenced his authorized profession. His college students’ confusion over American plea offers made him understand the shortcomings of the U.S. legal justice system. He’s now outspoken about wanting reform.
“If Individuals imagine that permitting Vladimir Putin simply in a wholesale trend to invade and take a rustic, that’s going to not have an effect on each American life and each life on this planet, they’re kidding themselves,” he mentioned. “This can be a second in time when the world has to face up in opposition to this.”
Gibbons mentioned he feared Russia’s invasion into Ukraine will probably be a pretense for future invasions of former-Soviet Republic international locations, like Moldova and Kazakhstan.
He referred to as Thursday “devastating” for Europe and, after all, Ukraine.
“Ukraine is a stupendous nation, and it’s a nation that was actually on its highway to absolute freedom: freedom of thought, freedom of expression,” he mentioned. “It’s simply unhappy to see this put down by navy drive.”
Jean Hill, who’s the director of life, justice and peace with the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake Metropolis, advised The Tribune in an electronic mail, “We be part of with Pope Francis in his name for prayer and fasting for peace in Ukraine and the safety of harmless lives.”
“We encourage our authorities leaders to welcome any Ukrainian refugees displaced by these mindless acts of aggression and urge folks to assist our Ukrainian brothers and sisters by donating to the efforts of Catholic Reduction Companies, which is already serving folks in want in Ukraine,” she mentioned.
This story will probably be up to date.