Ukrainians in DC react to plane crash - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Ukrainians in DC react to plane crash

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Pastor Robert Hitchens of the Ukrainian Catholic National Shrine of the Holy Family in D.C. says he has been praying for a peaceful resolution to the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, so it was incredibly upsetting when he learned a commercial airliner that was shot down in that region.

“And then to hear a passenger liner was shot down was absolutely horrible and a senseless loss of life,” said Father Hitchens.

Michael Sawkiw, a member of the church and the director of the Ukrainian National Information Office of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, says it doesn't surprise him that something like this could happen.

“It doesn’t surprise me in a sense because in the past several days, the Russian terrorists in eastern Ukraine have shot down a lot of Ukrainian aircrafts,” said Sawkiw.

The United States confirmed the plane was shot down by a missile, but hasn't determined who was responsible for the attacks.

But Sawkiw says after Russia’s actions in recent days, shooting down other Ukrainian military planes “shows that Russia does have a hand in what's happening in eastern Ukraine.”

Now this Ukrainian pastor can only hope that the tragedy will raise awareness and help bring a peaceful end to the fighting between Russia and Ukraine.

“It’s July, everyone is on vacation, crisis around the world aren't at the center of everyone's attention,” said Hitchens. “Unfortunately, a tragedy, a horrible tragedy like this is a wake-up call.”

Sawkiw says there is only one road to peace in the region.

“Russia needs to understand that Ukraine is an independent country,” he said. “It needs to remove all of its forces from eastern Ukraine. As a matter of fact, it needs to remove its forces from Crimea as well. And I think that's the only way.”

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