Iryna Kundeus and her daughter fled Ukraine last year. Molly Ingram | WSHU

Ukrainian refugees and members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation gathered Thursday to mark one year since Russia’s invasion began.

Multiple organizations in Connecticut have sponsored Ukrainian families fleeing the war. They have relocated all over Connecticut, including Greenwich and Fairfield, and integrated with their new communities the best they can.

This time last year, Dr. Hanna Zholnerchyk, an economics professor, was living in Ukraine with her husband and 16-year-old daughter. Now, she lives in Greenwich, and her husband is on the front lines of the war.

“Could you imagine,” Zholnerchyk said. “War in the 21st century in the middle of Europe. Maternity homes, kindergartens and schools are being bombed.”

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont addresses the group of Ukrainian refugees.

Iryna Kundeus fled her country with her baby daughter last February.

“I hope this war finishes this year,” Kundeus said. “I want to see my husband and my family.”

Jahana Hayes represents Connecticut’s 5th congressional district. She said she is obligated to defend the people of Ukraine because of her position in Congress.

“I stand firmly committed to support, provide assistance and humanitarian aid for the Ukrainian people throughout this,” Hayes said. “I mean, we’re at a year-long event. We had no idea that this would drag out this long, but it shows the resilience and the fortitude of the Ukrainian people.”

Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-CT)

The congresswoman said the state has been a national model for accepting refugees.

Hayes and other Connecticut politicians assured the refugees that they would always be welcome in Connecticut. They promised to continue pushing the federal government to send more weapons to Ukraine.

Connecticut Social Services Director Andrea Barton Reeves speaks to a crowd at Central Connecticut State University. Behind her are Ukrainian refugees and Connecticut officials, including Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz, CCSU President Zulma Toro, Governor Ned Lamont, U.S. Rep Joe Courtney, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, and U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes.

 This story was originally published Feb. 23, 2023, by WSHU.