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Vermonter with ties to Ukraine reflects on Russian threat

Jim and Larissa Haas looking out the window at Rise Up Bakery in Barre.
Elodie Reed / VPR
Jim and Larissa Haas at Rise Up Bakery in Barre.

As the international community turns its attention to the border of Russia and Ukraine, waiting to see if Russian troops will invade their democratic neighbor, at least one Vermonter has been following the conflict very closely: Jim Haas, who lived in Ukraine for nearly three decades before returning to Vermont to start Rise up Bakery in Barre.

The conflict between the two countries has been ongoing for years, stretching back to when Ukraine gained independence after the fall of the Soviet Union. In 2014, Russia defied Western leaders and seized Crimea from Ukraine.

Haas says he's been watching and listening to news — both Western, as well as Ukrainian and Russian — as the conflict has escalated in recent weeks. As a U.S. citizen originally from Danby, Haas spent 28 years in Ukraine, where he met his wife, Larissa, got married and had three kids. One of his sons still lives in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, or as the Russians call the city, Kiev.

Haas returned to Vermont in 2019, which is when he started the bakery. He spoke with Vermont Edition co-host Connor Cyrus about his thoughts on the conflict at the border and what it means for his friends and family in Ukraine.

Broadcast at noon on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or tweet us @vermontedition.

Connor Cyrus joined VPR as host and senior producer in March 2021. Formerly a reporter at WJAR in Providence, Rhode Island, he's passionate about journalism’s ability to shed light on complex or difficult topics, as well as giving voice to underrepresented communities.
Tedra joined VPR as a producer for Vermont Edition in January 2022. Before moving to Vermont, she was a journalist in New York City for 20 years. She has a master’s degree in journalism from New York University.