Chicago Ukrainians unite as Russia raises stakes of war: 'Putin is the Hitler of our age'

"We need to realize that Putin is the Hitler of our age. He is a madman and he needs to be stopped."

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Wednesday, September 21, 2022
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ABC 7 spoke with Ukrainians here in Chicago and others about the efforts to save lives and end this war.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- As the war in Ukraine escalates, Chicago's Ukrainian community is standing united in the face of the unknown. ABC 7 spoke with Ukrainians here in Chicago and others about the efforts to save lives and end this war.

On this International Day of Peace, seven months into the war in Ukrainian and thousands of lives lost, Chicago Ukrainians know it is anything but peaceful. Now they're preparing as Russia raises the stakes once again.

"We need to realize that Putin is the Hitler of our age. He is a madman and he needs to be stopped," said Marta Farion, Vice President, Ukrainian Congress Committee of America.

Potential war crimes pervade the Ukranian landscape. A mass grave with hundreds of bodies was discovered in a recently recaptured region and now Vladimir Putin has called 300,000 reserve fighters to duty, Farion says in spite of it all, in her Chicago community, "Each organization, each church, each individual in our community feels like a soldier in this war."

Farion says the madness must end, but that Putin's efforts so far have backfired, uniting Europe and the West. Now, a new normal exists in Ukraine, an existential threat.

"It's just daily living that you could die from missile attack because you never know," said Violetta Radchenko, a Ukrainian living in Chicago.

We met Radchenko on the first day of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Her parents and brother still live outside of Kyiv. As Russia ramps up the rhetoric and fighting force, she's trying to bring her mom to Chicago.

"It's going to be relief for everyone probably. Me, her," she said.

This, as others like Dr. Zaher Sahloul, President of humanitarian aid organization MedGlobal, ready for another mission to the war-torn country.

"I think it will be very dangerous phase of the war. Putin is brutal," he said.

Sahloul said MedGlobal has already brought $3.5 million worth of medical equipment to help doctors and nurses in Ukraine and soon they'll leave for their seventh mission, already gathering supplies.

"Eventually, this is war not only between Russia and Ukraine but between right and wrong," he said. "We have to make sure that this will not be repeated in other places in the world."

MedGlobal plans to go back to Ukraine to deliver those supplies on September 30.