Ukraine Delegation in Arizona Seeks Broader US Support as War Escalates with Russia

PHOENIX—Ukraine member of parliament Dmytro Liubota scrolled through dozens of personal cell phone images showing bombed-out buildings in the Kharkhiv region where he lives.

Some buildings were still on fire; many had gaping holes or whole parts blown away.

In several photos, pieces of Russian missiles lay in the streets.

The missile attacks are an almost daily occurrence, said Liubota, who lost his house, and his family business, to the bombardment.

Epoch Times Photo
Members of St. Mary’s Protectress Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Phoenix participate in a liturgical service on March 12, 2023. (Allan Stein/The Epoch Times)

“We have a big line of defense as they try to occupy our territory. The Russians are very strong, but our guys are stronger. Ukrainians are stronger,” said Liubota, standing outside St. Mary’s Protectress Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Phoenix, Arizona, on March 12.

Liubota said the situation is dire as the war enters its second year following the Russian invasion on Feb. 24, 2022.

On March 12, Liubota and other Ukrainian dignitaries visited Phoenix to meet with state and local officials to seek additional support for Ukraine’s humanitarian and military war effort.

“Our government is doing everything it can to support [the Ukrainian people] and give them food and clothes. But you understand, there are troop and missile attacks every day.

“It’s very hard to say it’s OK. It’s not OK,” Liubota told The Epoch Times.

Epoch Times Photo
Ukrainian diplomat and human rights advocate Volodymyr Dzhydzhora (L) listens to a liturgical service at St. Mary’s Protectress Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Phoenix on March 12, 2023. (Allan Stein/The Epoch Times)

Liubota is a People’s Deputy of Ukraine from the political party “Servant of the People” and a member of the Committee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine regarding its proposed integration into the European Union (EU).

He also serves as chairman of the subcommittee on economic, sectoral cooperation, and the comprehensive free trade zone between Ukraine and the EU.

The Ukrainian delegation included diplomat and human rights advocate Volodymyr Dzhydzhora.

The Arizona House of Representatives Office of International Affairs and the Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations invited the delegation to Arizona.

At noon, the delegation attended a Divine Liturgy and reception at St. Mary’s. Later, they met with Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs, Arizona lawmakers, business members, and representatives of Arizona State University’s IT, bioengineering, and climate disciplines.

Epoch Times Photo
A woman in traditional Ukrainian dress listens to members of a delegation from Kyiv at St. Mary’s Protectress Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Phoenix on March 12, 2023. (Allan Stein/The Epoch Times)

The focus of the visit was to build support for more humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine and to identify institutional donors for the redevelopment and restoration of the impacted areas of the devastated country.

Dzhydzhora said the goal also was to “bring information about what’s going on in Ukraine to explain how people suffer, how the country suffers, and to make deeper connections between regions of Ukraine” and to “bring more American potential to Ukraine.”

“Russia now abuses all human rights and all international conventions on human rights. There is no single international code that Russia did not violate against Ukraine,” Dzhydzhora said.

“They occupied Crimea. They occupied the eastern territories of Ukraine. And after eight years, they saw that they could not break us. They decided to go in full.”

After multiple failed talks, Dzhydzhora said Ukrainian officials do not see a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

Epoch Times Photo
A priest performs the divine liturgy at St. Mary’s Protectress Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Phoenix on March 12, 2023. (Allan Stein/The Epoch Times)

“Unfortunately, there is no diplomatic solution for this. The key for peace lies in Moscow, Kremlin [which] doesn’t want peace,” Dzhydzhora told The Epoch Times.

“For them, it means [Ukraine’s] surrender, and that’s it. For us, we will win. We will restore our territorial integrity and state serenity and human rights.”

Liubota said the key to peace is Russia’s willingness to return to the borders of 1991 and Crimea and the breakaway republics in the Donbas region to Ukraine.

“They came to us with a war on our historical territory. There’s only one [response]. Get out of my house.”

Liubota said millions of Ukrainians had fled the country since the war began.

Epoch Times Photo
St. Mary’s Protectress Ukrainian Orthodox Church community organizer Svetlana-Nikole Jeholen asks for donations for humanitarian efforts in Ukraine on March 12, 2023. (Allan Stein/The Epoch Times)

“It’s bad. Many people have no place to live.”

Given the state’s large Ukrainian community, the delegation agreed to come to Arizona to seek broader support. The Ukrainian population in the United States is currently around 893,000, or .3 percent.

Liubota said the war would continue until Russian troops withdrew from Ukraine.

“I am not a military man. We hope it will be as soon as possible,” he said.

“It depends on your support—the support of the American and European people. If you give us the weapons we need—supplies we need—we’ll have enough power to kick Putin’s [behind].”

Epoch Times Photo
Two members of St. Mary’s Protectress Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Phoenix discuss the situation in Ukraine on March 12, 2023. (Allan Stein/The Epoch Times)

According to the U.S. Defense Department, Washington has committed $51 billion in security aid to Ukraine since 2014 and of that total, more than $24.2 billion since the Russian invasion began in February 2022.

“There is no opposition [to the war] in our country,” Liubota said. “We have enough manpower. We have enough people who want to fight. We want to win this war.

“We will fight to the last Ukrainian.”

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