WARREN - With the Lenten season starting this week, extra prayers are being said at local Orthodox churches for a peaceful resolution to recent weeks of conflict in Russia and the Ukraine.
One Monday, Russia sent 16,000 troops into the Ukraine despite other world leaders threatening sanctions. Russia had used planes, boats and helicopters to enter the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea this past week.
World officials are asking Russia to withdraw its troops and called for mediation to end the crisis.
Ukrainians living in Italy protest outside the Russian embassy in Rome on Monday. Demonstrators condemned Russian military actions in Ukraine.
The Rev. Kenneth Bachofsky of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church said he and the church congregation are hoping for a quick resolution of the situation with no outside interference.
''We have been praying for a peaceful resolution. There are heightened concerns that there will be outside interference from other countries that may cause further conflict and political concerns,'' he said.
The fear of a war starting is the main concern.
''We are hoping this can be resolved internally and both sides can talk this out,'' he said.
Bachofsky said his congregation is a younger one. Those of Ukranian ancestry have few relatives in the Ukraine who they know. Those who would have had contact are now deceased. Over the years with different generations, there has been less communication with those in the Ukraine, he said.
The Rev. Jonathan Chlocher of St. John the Baptist Orthodox Church in Warren said he and the church congregation have been saying prayers for a quick resolution.
''We are praying that there is no bloodshed or forcible takeover. It is a very convoluted and serious situation that we hope will not turn violent,'' Chlocher said.
He said in the past weeks there have been prayers for a resolution.
Chlocher said members of the church are not really in contact with anyone in the Ukraine.
''We all want a peaceful resolution and to avoid any war,'' he said.