Potential Russian invasion of Ukraine weighs heavy on many in Chicago
CHICAGO - President Joe Biden warned that a Russian invasion of Ukraine is imminent.
"We have reason to believe that Russian forces are planning to and intend to attack Ukraine in the coming week, in the coming days," said Biden.
Before his remarks Friday afternoon, Biden spoke with allies in North America and Europe. A new U.S. intelligence assessment indicated Russia is continuing preparations to attack.
"The United States and our allies are prepared to defend every inch of NATO territory from any threat to our collective security as well," said Biden.
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As tensions between Russia and Ukraine escalate abroad, concern is also being felt locally.
In Chicago, the developing situation is weighing heavy on the hearts of many in the city’s Ukrainian community.
An estimated 200,000 people of Ukrainian decent live in Chicago – with thousands in Ukrainian Village. Many of them are worried about family and friends who are currently in Ukraine.
"The majority of us have family there," said Michael Chaban.
Chaban – an attorney who grew up in eastern Ukraine and moved to the U.S. two decades ago – said he is holding out hope for a peaceful resolution.
"I’m hoping at least that it’s not going to be a military action, because so many people will die that it’s hard to take," said Chaban. "It’s civilians, military, everyone. I have friends who died, family members who died there on both sides, so it’s not a pleasant situation."
Ukrainian National Museum President Lydia Tkaczuk described the fear her relatives are already experiencing.
"It seems that things are moving very, very quickly," said Tkaczuk. "I know that they already have bomb drills in schools, in kindergarten. The parents have had like three bomb drills already – the children have to leave the school and the parents actually have to come and pick up the children."
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Some say their loved ones have moved west, further from potential conflict, while others are staying put and taking it one day at a time.
"I have a second cousin, her and her husband, and she has a child there in Kyiv. Her parents are in eastern Ukraine in Poltava," said Orysia Kourbatov, administrator, Ukrainian National Museum. "I wrote her, what she wrote back to me is, ‘We’re hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst.’"
On Saturday, Feb. 19 at 6 p.m., the Ukrainian National Museum will hold a candlelight vigil to pray for peace in Ukraine and to honor the ‘Heavenly Hundred’ who were killed on Feb. 20, 2014 when Russia invaded Ukraine and subsequently annexed the Crimean Peninsula.