Ukrainian in LA: We’ll create more calamities by not responding to Russia properly

Written by Amy Ta, produced by Brian Hardzinski

Members of the Russian community march during a demonstration against Russia, after it launched a massive military operation against Ukraine, in Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 24, 2022. Photo by REUTERS/Ringo Chiu.

President Biden responded to Russia’s full-scale attack against Ukraine by imposing heavy sanctions. But for Ukrainian Americans living in California, it’s personal and the latest chapter in a long history of Russian aggression against their country.

Ernest Prokopovych left Ukraine after World War II when he was 8 years old, and he arrived in the U.S. at age 13. Currently living in Calabasas, he says this moment feels familiar and brings back difficult memories.

“We left in 1944. It was a long trek, and we went through some areas where there was fighting that we witnessed personally. I remember one situation where there were some Jews lined up by a road, and they were being executed. My father covered up with his hand, my eye, so I wouldn't see it, but I saw it between the cracks. And to this day, I have a very, very, very vivid picture of this event,” he explains.

His family originally planned to flee the war-torn area and return home when the war ended, but that didn’t happen. He adds that four or five days ago, some family members in Ukraine emailed him to express concerns that “things are getting tight.” He replied but isn’t sure whether they’ll receive the message.

What does Prokopovych think will happen to Ukraine? “We hope for the best but in reality … Putin has already said that he wants to install a new government. So he's going to install somebody that is Russia friendly.”

Prokopovych points out that while this situation is influenced by oil prices, it goes beyond that. “What happens is that Ukraine falls, and if it falls quickly and easily, Putin will get the appetite to bring back the politics. … What we are doing by not responding properly, we are making Russia bigger and stronger, and that will create more calamities for us.”

For now, Prokopovych says he’s standing by to see how he can help his native country.



  • Ernest Prokopovych - Calabasas resident who immigrated to the U.S. as a refugee from Ukraine in 1949