Utahns have played a pivotal role in supporting Ukrainians — that’s one of the messages the Consul General of Ukraine shared in an exclusive interview with FOX 13 News.
Dmytro Kushneruk serves as Consul General of Ukraine for the Western region. Kushneruk’s consular district includes states from Hawaii to Wyoming, yet it is Utahns who have given unique support to Ukraine.
It is the Beehive State’s outpouring of love that has caught Kushneruk’s attention, though out of all the states in his district, Utah has a relatively small Ukrainian population.
“Small population, small numbers, but you have big hearts,” said Kushneruk.
During his visit on Thursday, Kushneruk met with Governor Spencer Cox, First Lady Abby Cox, leaders with the World Trade Center, and those with Latter-day Saint Charities, along with dozens of organizations.
In those meetings, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints committed $5 million, along with semi-trucks of food and supplies, for those in Ukraine.
“I would like to thank [the governor] for what’s already being done and to also talk about humanitarian aid that can be provided,” said Kushneruk, speaking specifically about his meeting with Cox.
Kushneruk said medical supplies, food, body armor and helmets are the greatest needs in Ukraine. With seaports blocked by Russian ships, he said food delivery has stopped.
“That’s why the humanitarian aid and everything that can be collected here in Utah, specifically, is very important right now,” said Kushneruk.
Along with a need for supplies, Kushneruk said he hopes Utah leaders will allow Ukrainian students to come and finish their schooling here.
“People are not willing to emigrate — they just need to leave the country for some time while there is war, and then to come back,” said Kushneruk.
Born and raised in Ukraine, Kushneruk served as Deputy Chief of Protocol for the previous president of Ukraine and held that position until President Volodymyr Zelenksy’s administration began.
“I never believed I would see a situation like this happen to my country,” said Kushneruk.
Yet, despite his devastation, he spoke of final triumph for Ukrainians.
“What Putin did not expect that Ukrainians, as a nation, would unite and fight so strong,” said Kushneruk.
He said it is not a question of whether Ukraine will win the war against Russia, but rather what the war will cost.
“The question is the price that we pay for that victory,” said Kushneruk. “That price is human life.”
Using his personal Twitter account, Governor Cox echoed Kushneruk’s sentiments after meeting with him.
“I believe Ukraine can win and we should do everything possible to make that happen," his tweet read in part.
Really special meeting with the Ukrainian Consul General. He was moved by the generosity and support of Utahns and we were moved by the bravery and resilience of his country. I believe Ukraine can win and we should do everything possible to make that happen. https://t.co/0rj9Ozq0Oh— Spencer Cox (@SpencerJCox) March 24, 2022