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Tri-State residents with ties to Ukraine watch in agony as Russia invades

'I pray for them.'
Babushka's Pierogis
Posted at 5:45 PM, Feb 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-24 18:33:02-05

CINCINNATI — As the Russian invasion of Ukraine unfolds, those with ties to the area who are living in the Tri-State are watching helplessly.

“The brain cannot really comprehend what this could truly mean,” said Sarah Dworak. “To imagine that worst case scenario in my mind is playing out, but to just have the whole country erased by bombings, there are not words for it.”

Dworak owns Babushka Pierogi at Findlay Market where she serves up recipes from her late grandmother, who emigrated to the United States after being held at a German labor camp during World War II. Her home town in Ukraine was destroyed during the war.

“I have carried on her traditions, her cooking, all of her recipes. I’ve basically turned that love of my grandmother into what I do everyday. So still very connected to Ukrainian culture and life,” said Dworak.

Oleksandr Panasyuk, who is from Ukraine but was adopted by a family in Northern Kentucky, said his eyes have been glued to the television.

“I’ve been up for the past 24 hours,” he said.

Panasyuk has friends living in Ukraine, many of which are fighting in the Ukrainian military.

“I pray for them. I checked on them this morning. They’re still alive. But, people have to believe in the Ukrainian military. They have to remember that Ukrainian military is not that military in 2014. It’s drastically changed,” he said. “Just watching developments, I’m very impressed honestly how much more powerful they got in eight years. Many of those men and woman have combat experience and just training from the U.S.”

Still, he’s concerned about the possible loss of sovereignty in Ukraine.

So is Abigail Rist, who grew up in Ukraine and now attends Cedarville University.

“It’s definitely nerve-wracking,” said Rist. “(If Russia takes Ukraine) you’ll lose any sort of democracy that has been built up over the past 30 years. You lose any freedom of speech, freedom of religion, you lose the freedom to speak your own language.”

Dworak fears the entire Ukrainian culture could be lost.

“It’s a huge humanitarian crisis,” she said. “There is a real threat of one entire European country being wiped from the planet and the 41 million people that go with it.”

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