Russia-Ukraine Crisis

For South Floridians With Loved Ones in Ukraine, Reality of Russia's Intentions Settling in

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On day one of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the areas being attacked were primarily military targets — air bases, operations centers and supply locations.

But that changed Friday. Video from Ukraine shows civilian residential areas were also being struck — the images were horrifying to see for those who have family members in the country.

Mariana Berezhna, who now lives in Bal Harbour, is from the western part of Ukraine.

“(The) invasion of the western part of Ukraine, we thought it was going to take time even with invasion, right?" Berezhna said. "But today they attacked, already attacked the airport. which is one and a half hours from my hometown.”

Berezhna spoke about her family and how they are afraid to leave their basement, surviving there in the cold with little food.

"They got orders to go to the basement turn off the lights, gas, everything else — got to the basement and they worry about that attack going to come from the sky from the airplane," Berezhna said.

The Ukrainian president has ordered all adult males to stay in the country and fight, and civilians with military or law enforcement training were given weapons. The Ukrainian military reportedly turned back Russians trying to advance over a bridge in the southern part of the county.  

Peter Piaseckj, who now lives in Miami-Dade, was born in Ukraine during World War II.

“Ukrainians will fight — have always fought. I know a lot of people that fought in the guerrilla warfare that you see over there from 1945 to 1955 with occasional skirmishes up to 1970s without any support from anybody but themselves," Piaseckj said.

Florida International University professor and international security expert G. Alexander Crowther said he’s personally spoken with Ukrainians ready to take the Russians on.

“They are all going to go to ground in cities, and every Ukrainian is going to try to kill a Russian," he said. "And if every Ukrainian can manage to kill a Russian, they are going to go home because they are sensitive to casualties. That’s what happened to them in Afghanistan.”

The Ukrainian military is fighting and reportedly did stop the Russians trying to move further inland over a bridge in the southern part of the county.

Ukrainians in South Florida have been holding rallies, including one on Friday night in Sunny Isles Beach, where a large population of Russians and Ukrainians call home.

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