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San Diegans with family and friends in Ukraine watch in horror as Russian invasion unfolds

“A little bit of panic … a lot of panic.”

That's how Nadia Haywas described her feelings while watching the situation unfold in Ukraine on Thursday. On Tuesday, Nadia and her husband Askold were still holding on to hope, praying that Vladimir Putin would not launch the war against Ukraine that is now underway.

RELATED: Ukrainian expats in San Diego watch situation unfolding in Ukraine with anxiety

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John Carroll, Roland Lizarondo
Nadia and Askold Haywas speak to KPBS via zoom on Feb. 24, 2022.

They continue reaching out to family and friends. The stories they’re hearing now are gut-wrenching.

“They have gotten in their car and they are leaving and then I asked them where they are going to, they do not know. They are very frightened," Nadia said.

Fr. Yuri Sas, clerical administrator of St. John the Baptizer, is part of a demonstration planned for Thursday night at the construction site of the largely Ukrainian congregation's new church.

"We need support from American sanctions, weapons, because it’s time,” Fr. Sas said.

Up until recently, the main concern of Fr. Sas was the construction of the congregation’s new church in Santee. Now, his attention is focused thousands of miles away.

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John Carroll, Roland Lizarondo
Fr. Yuri Sas, the clerical administrator of St. John the Baptizer parish speaks to KPBS via zoom on Feb. 24, 2022.

“People are dying over there, every minute, every second people are dying. We need to stop this stupid aggression," he said.

Now, both Nadia and Askold Haywas and Fr. Sas said they are left with a sinking, hopeless feeling.

“I can’t believe it happened. I didn’t believe till yesterday, but it happened and we need to stay together and we need to support each other,” Fr. Sas said.

“Totally unnecessary, totally unreasonable, just crazy, just … something that I couldn’t envision, surrealistic, not reality, of another world,” Askold Haywas said.

San Diegans with family and friends in Ukraine watch in horror as Russian invasion unfolds
  • As the people in the U.S. woke up to the news that Russia was invading Ukraine, many in San Diego’s Ukrainian community began worrying about their relatives and the fate of their native land. Plus, this year’s “Point In Time” homeless count began Thursday and could provide more insight on how many more people became homeless during the pandemic.