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‘People are going to suffer.’ Tucson’s Ukrainian community voices concern for its homeland

KOLD News 10-10:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Feb. 21, 2022 at 10:26 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Ukrainian members of the Tucson community are speaking out about the rising tensions between their country and Russia.

U.S. officials say the long-feared Russian invasion of Ukraine could be approaching, if not already underway.

“If Ukraine falls, then it’s the Baltic states, it’s Poland, it’s Slovakia, it’s Romania back to where it was in 1945,” Ihor Kunasz said.

That’s the fear of members of the Ukrainian American community in Tucson. They’re keeping a close eye on the developing situation in their homeland.

It’s a long-standing conflict between Ukraine and Russia. According to the Ukrainian government, 14,000 have died and there are 1.5 million people displaced in Ukraine. The Ukrainian community fears what will happen if Russian President Vladimir Putin orders troops to invade.

“They’ll have more millions displaced. Children can’t go to school, children are being hurt, possibly hunger, but this is why help is so important,” Kunasz said.

He’s talking about help from the U.S. and other countries, as well as support from local leaders and the public.

Marta Stawnyczyj Toci, a first generation American citizen, says she is holding onto her faith and writing to any politician who will listen. She thinks ultimately, more can be done to stop Russia.

“Our leaders, all of them in France, Germany, NATO, the United States, in Canada, all of the leaders of the free world have the opportunity to get together as a united front and say to Putin, ‘no,’” she said.

Marta says she wants Tucsonans and the rest of the country to see how important Ukraine is. She believes if Russia does invade, it won’t stop there.

“What the world doesn’t understand is that Ukraine is a keystone to peace. It really is a keystone to peace,” she said.

Igor Borisevich was born in Ukraine before moving to Tucson with his parents. He still has family over in Ukraine and has been in close contact with them as Russia threatens invasion and the threat of another war emerges.

“The situation is pretty unpredictable right now to them. They don’t know what to expect. That’s the most worrisome part. People don’t know what’s going to happen next. Every day, every hour, there’s new news coming about the situation,” he said.

You can find a more in-depth look at the conflict between Ukraine and Russia here.

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