SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Ukrainians across Europe and the United States watched in horror from afar on Thursday as Russia’s invasion of their home country began with several violent attacks.

A Springfield pastor who is from Ukraine says his heartbreaks for the people of Ukraine who are now trapped. Peter Golosinski, is the lead pastor at Connect Church. He arrived with his family in the United States of America when he was 19.

“We arrived as refugees because my dad was a pastor in Ukraine when it was under communism,” said Golosinski. “So, he was in prison for his faith.”

Golosinki says it was shocking for the invasion of Ukraine to become a reality.

“No one thought it would actually happen,” said Golosinki. We just thought big bluff from Putin.”

Golosinski says his heart goes out to the Ukrainian citizens as they are now trapped.

“All major highways are blocked because people are trying to get out,” said Golosinki. “All airlines have been suspended to and from Ukraine. The only way to get in or out is to escape to Poland.”

Golosinki has still been able to stay in contact with friends and family who are currently in Ukraine. They have shared heartwrenching videos of the current state of Ukraine.

“Explosions are everywhere around Ukraine,” said Golosinki. “Russia is targeting military posts and airports. But it’s all around the city. Whether the rocket is flying to your house or not you can hear it. Children are crying, people are panicking trying to get out of cities.”

Ukraine currently has around 40 million people. The nation was part of the old communist Soviet Union throughout the 20th century until that country collapsed in 1991. It was also the center of the first Eastern European Slavic state, Kyivan Rus. The country was the most powerful state in all of Europe during the 900s and 1000s.

Why is Russia invading Ukraine?

“Putin has been in power for almost 20 years,” said Golosinki. “That is in direct contradiction to the constitution of Russia. It would be like if one of our presidents [in the United States] wanted to remain. So, what did he do? He changed the constitution. In return he told the Russians he would elevate their status, to restore their former days of glory. And the Russians bought that.”

Golosinski says tyrants throughout history rose to power by lying to their people and making promises they don’t intend to keep.

Thirty years since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 2021, and 22 years since Vladimir Putin came to power, Moscow has successfully reasserted itself as the dominant political force and security provider in the region. Only Ukraine and the three Baltic States that achieved membership in both NATO and the European Union in 2004 have managed to stay beyond Moscow’s grip.

In 2014, Russia invaded and subsequently annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine.

“When he took over Crimea in 2014, he realized there was no real consequence and I think it was just a matter of time,” said Golosinski. “He had this intention for a long time. He was testing the waters and the will of the West. He realized there were no consequences. He took Crimea why not take Ukraine.”

When Putin first came into power he took control of two things: media and energy.

“Whoever controls media and energy has the power. And that’s what Putin has,” said Golosinki. “Who knows if this will be the last thing on his list to conquer.”

What is being done to punish Putin?

The United States, the European Union, and several other countries and entities have expanded their economic sanctions against Russia as punishment for its invasion of Ukraine.

On Thursday, February 24, 2022, President Biden said the United States would cut off Sberbank and VTB Bank, two of Russia’s largest banks, and several large companies from Western financial markets. He also announced sweeping restrictions on technological imports and said that the United States was freezing trillions of dollars in Russian assets, expanding a crackdown on Russian elites and their families, although Mr. Putin was not directly targeted.

Biden told Americans, “Our forces are not and will not be engaged in a conflict with Russia in Ukraine.”

However, Biden also said, “The United States will defend every inch of NATO territory with the full force of American power.”

Ukraine is not a NATO defense alliance member, but it’s located next door to NATO members such as Poland and Romania that the U.S. is treaty-bound to defend in case of attack.

“The West now invent or fights for ideas, like global warming and other ideas that have no connection to real life,” said Golosinki. “The tyrants are rising up and they are for real. They are not fighting global warming. They couldn’t care less about that. They are fighting for territory and power. Unless the West can find a way to go back to our values I don’t think we can offer a real solution to Ukraine.”

Golosinki says Putin is not scared and does whatever he wants to do whether right or wrong.

Ukraine resistance

“Russia treacherously attacked our state in the morning, as Nazi Germany did in the WW2 years,” tweeted Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

President Zelenskiy is calling on Ukrainians to defend their country. He said weapons would be given to anyone prepared to fight.

Zelenskiy said the country has severed diplomatic relations with Russia. He says the nation’s security is the top priority.

He says Ukraine has made a choice to stand up to Russia and not be bullied by Putin. However, he believes militarily Ukraine has very little chance to push Russia back.

“Everyday citizens can take arms but if you are not trained what kind of resistance against airpower can they provide. I would think this would definitely unite the Ukrainians and will bring people towards one another and towards God-knowing only God can protect them at this point,” said Golosinski.

Despite Russia being so powerful, Ukrainians have already shown their will to fight back.

“As far as the will to fight, I already think the Ukrainians have shown that for the last eight years,” said Golosinski. “[Russia] keeps on killing people and constantly fighting Ukraine but Ukraine has shown resilience and will to fight back.”

What will be the long term impacts

Golosinski explained that Ukraine is not a rich country, but it is a vast country.

“Ukraine was on the uprise and people were trying to gain momentum and I think Russia was afraid of that,” said Golosinski. “It will set back Ukraine economically. Imagine all the building and infrastructure they will have to do.”

There is also another concern that could happen. A division between the Ukrainian people.

“I think this will further divide people. One group of people will say we should have never left Russia and then there will be people who want to be an independent country,” said Golosinski.

Golosinski says Ukraine is going to have to find its national identity. Will Ukraine side with the West? Will they side for independence and freedom or will it yield to Russia?

Golosinski’s message to Putin

“Putin needs to understand that the world is united against him. When I listen to his speech that he gave yesterday, he lives in a made up reality. He believes he is the savior and he is free to occupy Ukraine. It’s only a matter of time when this machine that is the Russian Federation will fall apart. Anything that is built on bloodthirstiness or desire to rule and conquer will fail.”

Peter Golosinski