Washington stands with Ukraine on anniversary of Russian invasion
On the one-year mark of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Washington remains committed to helping refugees and supporting civilians and soldiers on the war’s frontline.
The stack of envelopes on the receptionist’s desk at the Ukrainian Community Center represents another day’s work for Oleg Pynda, the group’s executive director of 25 years. From their headquarters in the Seattle suburbs, Pynda’s team has worked with over 1,000 refugees since Russia invaded Ukraine one year ago today. Each envelope in the pile of outgoing mail contains completed forms that will enable Ukrainians who fled the war to start rebuilding their lives here in Washington.
Gov. Jay Inslee traveled to the community center on Monday for a conversation with Pynda and other leaders from the Ukrainian Community in Washington. They discussed ongoing efforts to help refugees re-settling here, as well as initiatives to send essential supplies to civilians and soldiers on the frontlines in Ukraine.
Pynda says his organization serves as a key link for new arrivals. While sponsors or relatives here provide a starting point, groups like Pynda’s help people connect with Washington’s Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance. That office provides access federal and state aid programs. Refugees arriving here often need everything from short-term food and rental assistance to employment and immigration authorizations.
The Ukrainian Community Center is well placed to provide this connection, with translators and four federally accredited immigration specialists on staff. But the needs of their clients are growing.
“With the influx of refugees after February , we’ve started seeing more and more people in need of mental health counselling, people who have survived the atrocities of the war and its traumas,” explained Pynda.
His organization is responding to those needs by increasing resources to help new arrivals manage issues like anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The governor has upheld Washington’s long, bipartisan tradition of supporting people escaping violence and deprivation from around the globe.
Over the last decade, more than 30,000 refugees from 70 countries have settled in Washington through the U.S. Refugee Admissions program. Since Russia’s illegal seizure of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014, Washington has become home to more Ukrainian refugees than any other state, according to The Seattle Times.
In the last year alone, Washington has taken in 16,000 more Ukrainian refugees. Pynda cited the state’s responsiveness to providing refugees with assistance as a major reason for the Ukrainian community’s strength and growth in Washington.
The governor’s administration has actively worked to connect Ukrainian citizens and soldiers on the frontlines with humanitarian and civil infrastructure support as well.
Just weeks after the war broke out in March 2022, the governor helped organize a flight of 32 tons of medical supplies to the country. He also issued a directive to state agencies barring new contracts and investments with Russian agencies or state-owned businesses. The Washington State Investment Board committed to divesting from Russian assets. Washington’s National Guard also provided, at the request of the United States government, defensive miliary equipment and mobile counter-artillery radars.
According to Ukraine’s honorary consul in Washington state, Valeriy Goloborodko, Ukrainian soldiers and civilians remain in need of emergency medical equipment such as burn treatments, saline, tourniquets and other types of bandages. They also need laptop computers, cold weather gear, and vehicles.
Those interested in helping with this effort can learn more from the following websites:
· Uniting for Ukraine | U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
· Washington’s local refugee resettlement agencies