The city of Chicago’s large Ukrainian-American population is watching with growing concern the events transpiring in Ukraine, as Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the start of a military operation in the country.
As tensions continued to grow in the region, many citizens in Ukraine opted to stay in the country.
That group includes Sergiy Fomenko, a Ukrainian musician who spoke to NBC 5 from his home in the capital of Kyiv on Wednesday.
“It’s a strong country. It’s a country with strong people,” he said.
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Fomenko works with Chicago Sister Cities International. He spoke to NBC 5 on Wednesday while working with the Chicago-based organization.
“Me and my friends, we feel good, but not so good,” he said. “We need to be ready for it.”
Fomenko told NBC 5 that he is armed, and that many of his fellow citizens are as well.
“A lot of people have (weapons),” he said.
As new sanctions were imposed by the Biden administration Wednesday, Putin ordered an assault to begin on numerous targets in Ukraine, with explosions rocking several cities, including the capital of Kyiv.
Putin argues that the nation’s interests are not to occupy Ukraine, but to push back against threats he says undermine Russia’s security. He says that any attempt by the United States or other countries to intervene in the conflict would result in “consequences they have never seen,” and he blasted the U.S. for new sanctions that were imposed by the Biden administration on Russian companies and banks.
The president issued a statement of his own on Wednesday, calling the invasion an “unprovoked and unjustified attack” by Russia.
“Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring, and the United States and its Allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive way,” he said.
The president says he will meet with other members of the G7 on Thursday to discuss further actions.
Even amid all of the bombing and the rapidly-escalating situation, Fomenko says that he is staying in the capital no matter what.
“Why do we need to go anywhere? This is our land. This is our country,” he said.