Feb 25, 2022 - News

Chicagoan's view of Ukraine invasion

People in front of a river

Chicagoans Julian Hayda (right) and wife Summer Fields during happier times in Kyiv, where they were living and studying until late last year. Photo courtesy of Julian Hayda

Chicagoan Julian Hayda — whose late father led St. Joseph's Ukrainian Catholic Church near O'Hare — had been studying for the priesthood in Kyiv until last winter. Amid threats of a Russian invasion, he resumed his studies online from London last month.

Context: December surveys showed that only half of Ukrainians anticipated a Russian invasion — and most thought it would be restricted to Eastern separatist territories.

What he's saying: "I don't think anybody expected missiles and bombs to fall out of the sky, but as of [Thursday] morning, 12 of my neighbors in Brovary, Ukraine are now dead," Hayda tells Axios.

  • "My seminary is in a suburb of Kyiv, and a neighboring town, which is about a 30-minute walk, was bombed. I mean, it's like going from Niles to Morton Grove."

The latest: "A friend of mine that I'm with here in London has family in far western Ukraine (Ivano-Frankivsk), and they don't have an airport anymore," Hayda says.

  • "They woke up this morning and the airport had been on fire for hours."

Hayda's message home: "Chicagoans should know that this is not a new Cold War," he says. "Ukrainians want peace, even if they need to defend themselves … Putin has no good reason to kill women and children and old people, and bomb airports, but that is what's happening now."

What's next for him: "Our classes were canceled this week and my classmates were in a makeshift bomb shelter in the basement of the seminary most of the day," he says. "So the answer is: I don't know."

Editor's note: Monica used to work with Julian at WBEZ.

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