ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Roman Voloshyn’s longtime dream of opening a Ukrainian restaurant in St. Petersburg has become a reality. His dream took on a new sense of urgency after the Russian invasion threatened the existence of his home country, and his mom and dad who still live in Ukraine.
Voloshyn said his restaurant is very distinct to the western part of Ukraine. He and his family are from Lviv, a city of more than 700,000 people.
On the opposite side of Ukraine, the city of Izium was recaptured after Moscow’s retreat from a Ukrainian counteroffensive. This comes after almost six months under Russian cooperation, which left Izium devastated.
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Russian forces left the city last week as Kyiv’s soldiers pressed a stunning advance that has reclaimed large swaths of territory in Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region.
“My dad is kind of excited that the Ukrainian army, was able to make an advance and liberate the territories,” Voloshyn said.
Voloshyn said his family over in Ukraine has largely been spared by the devastation from Russia’s aggression, other than a missile attach a few miles from their home. He said his family always predicted that their smaller army had a natural advantage, because it believed in its cause.
“Probably the bravest people in the world,” Voloshyn said. “When everybody was afraid about Russians, we just stood against them with our chances really low. Now chances are very high.”
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Despite a few recent battles, the war isn’t over, which has Voloshyn worried about what else Putin might try.
“My brother-in-law is enlisted, in the Army, he is actively participating, everyone is expecting his return home safe soon,” Voloshyn said.
His St. Pete restaurant is a world away, but in many ways, it’s how he expresses Ukrainian pride as his country continues to fight.
“This is what Ukraine has offered,” Voloshyn said. “Not only brave people, but we have a great cuisine.”
Voloshyn said they donate money from every purchase to funds that support Ukrainian soldiers who have been wounded in battle.
The Associated Press contributed
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