On Thursday, lawmakers in Crimea unanimously declared they wanted to join Russia and would put the decision to voters in 10 days, AP reported. Obama condemned the move and the West answered with the first real sanctions against Russia.
Obama said any decisions on the future of Crimea, a pro-Russian area of Ukraine, must include the country’s new government.
On Feb. 24, the Peace Corps announced that all Peace Corps Ukraine volunteers were safe and had been evacuated from the country. The agency will continue to assess security in Ukraine, the media release said, and while officials said the hope is that volunteers can return, the safety and security of Peace Corps workers are the agency’s top priority.
Cahill said Peace Corps Washington and Peace Corps Ukraine are working closely together to monitor the situation in Ukraine to send volunteers back as soon as possible.
“Volunteers are eagerly awaiting word from Peace Corps for when we can return,” Cahill said.
Ukraine has a population of about 48 million people and the official language is Ukrainian. More than 2,740 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Ukraine since 1992, when the program was established in that country, according to the agency’s website. Current projects include teaching English, community development, and youth development.
Ukraine is the country with the largest number of Peace Corps volunteers, Cahill said. About two years ago, there were about 500 volunteers, he said, and now about 230 volunteers assigned to serve there.
Most Ukrainians speak both Ukrainian and Russian, Cahill said. Peace Corps volunteers learned one of the two languages, and he learned Ukrainian.
Cahill said a three-month intensive language course and living with a host family after arriving in Ukraine provided solid instruction and practice to have a good, working knowledge of the language. He can converse with people he meets during his daily travels in the community of Zolochiv, which is in the western section of Ukraine and is about an hour’s drive east of Lvov.