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Mass for peace in Ukraine, experts explain the history of conflict between Russia and Ukraine

Posted at 11:31 PM, Feb 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-01 11:53:27-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — People of Ukrainian descent and others came together at the other Church of Polonia to show their support for Ukraine.

"My family is from Poland, and we are close to the Ukrainian border, and I felt it was very important to share my thoughts and prayers for the people in Yugoslavia and Ukraine just for their war right now," Cheryl Westphal says.

Other community members supporting their neighbor's hopes for a better resolution in Ukraine.

"We're proud as Polish Americans with the people of Ukraine we stand for freedom not only for the Ukrainians and Polish community for the whole wide world," says Diane Mrciniak. "And it's a very sad encounter for our democracy."

As some pray for peace, several ask why so much conflict between the two countries.

Daemen College history professor Andrew Wise says tension between Russia and Ukraine goes back centuries.

"From that point on 1694, the Russian Czar began to assume they controlled Ukraine so there was this quite literally what this treaty meant," Wise says.

And the tensions between the two countries didn't stop there.

"In 1991 the Ukrainians voted for independence and they've been an independent state since 1991. Additionally, the United States, Russia, and the United Kingdom signed an agreement with the Ukrainians to give up their nuclear arsenal in return they all would guarantee Ukrainian sovereignty."

Men ages 18 to 80 standing guard to keep their democracy from falling while Russia marching and invading different parts of Ukraine.

"That's what they're there for. They grow up building Ukraine now they'll be defending Ukraine," says Yuri Hreshchyshyn, chairman of Buffalo Chapter Ukrainian Congress Committee of America.