As Russians continue to move more troops to the Ukrainian border, the people of Ukraine on that border live in constant fear of a Russian invasion, which is only fair given Russia’s recent actions and the number of Russian troops that have amassed at the border. The Russians claim they are simply taking part in a military training exercise, but for these people in Ukraine, that does not put their minds at ease by any means.
A low hum rises high into the onion-shaped dome of a village church.
The priest, shrouded in a gold cape, peers through steel-gray eyes at the small flock standing before him, intoning ancient religious chants.
A few miles of forest, swampland and rolling potato fields is all that stands between this community of 2,500 people and Ukraine’s eastern border with Russia.
In the congregation, tears stream down one lady’s face. Hard to tell whether she’s moved by the power of prayer or whether she’s just plain terrified of the prospect Russian troops could invade.
Before he took his vows, Father Mikhail Zorivchak — an engineer by profession — was an officer in the Soviet army. He came back to this region after the fall of the Berlin Wall but found no other work except rebuilding churches, including the one in this village.
He cannot believe his old comrades will roll into Ukraine, even less that rank-and-file Russian soldiers would heed orders to open fire on their Ukrainian neighbors.
But if they do, Zorivchak is preaching to the faithful that there can be no question of turning the other cheek.
“I will preach to our people to defend our homeland from any invader. This is the land of our grandfathers. I’ll pray for our army. And if they need me I’m ready to join them to protect our holy land,” he told CNN.