Updated: 03/23/2014 6:47 PM
Created: 03/23/2014 2:31 PM KSTP.com
By: Kate Renner
The instability in Ukraine has many Minnesotans watching closely, even praying for peace in the region.
KSTP spoke with church members at St. Katherine Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Arden Hills about the future of Ukraine.
The ornate Orthodox Ukrainian sanctuary is filled with songs of peace and preparation for Easter. But not far from any of the worshippers minds, is the unrest in Ukraine.
Thousands of Russian troops are building-up along the eastern border of Ukraine. Church member Alex Chorexicz speculates that's a part of Russian President Putin's intimidation plan. "Those lies, the intimidation, the force or forcing people into subjugation of an entire populous," he said.
Sunday's church message even touched on Russia's power play over Crimea, with Father Peter Siwko preaching on it from the pulpit, "Putin and his regime decided to break the peace and take part of Ukraine," he said.
"The prayers are that this entire episode we hope the land that has been grabbed by the Russians, will go back to where it was before," said Chorewicz.
Luba Lewytzkyj has family in Kiev, Ukraine, and says Western powers need to step up before Putin's hunger for more territory gets out of control. "The U.S. as well as Europe needs to step forward and exert a little bit of muscle. Some strong sanctions and stronger verbiage," she said.
"You can tell Putin's got that Stalin, Lenin (mindset), that he wants to control that whole area, he wants to take over," said Sviatoslav Mierza, church leader.
For Americans having a tough time grasping the significance of Russia annexing Crimea, Lewytzkyj paints this picture: "It's kind of like someone from I'll just say Mexico coming into Texas, and saying we're going to be protecting the rights of our Latino Spanish speakers because they don't feel like their rights are protecting, and we're going to annex Texas."
Although the situation isn't close to our home, for many of the church's worshippers it's close to their hearts.