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Valley residents' family speak on Ukraine-Russia conflict

Ukraine Russia
Posted at 10:18 PM, Feb 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-16 00:34:32-05

PHOENIX — Operating Soup and Sausage Bistro in north Phoenix is how Oleksii Koshalko makes his living. Living here, instead of in Ukraine with some of his family and friends, still keeps him anxious.

"Yeah. We worry. Of course,” said Koshalko.

Koshalko's mom lives a little more than 15 miles (25 kilometers) from the Ukraine-Russia border.

Like many others in the Valley, with family caught in the middle of the crisis, Koshalko doesn't want his people to back down.

“But, we are ready," added Koshalko. “To fight for our country!"

He considers Ukraine's independence as the only desire.

Koshalko was hopeful eight years ago and thought Russia was friendly to Ukraine. But, that has changed.

"When the Russian Army killed our soldiers, the Army killed about 14,000 people, so it has changed a lot,” added Koshalko.

Koshalko says he and his mom stay in constant contact about what's going on with Russia and Ukraine.

He says they've talked about her joining him in Phoenix. But, he's not yet ready to fly her here.

Victor Szwez has a lot of family and friends in eastern Ukraine.

"That's where it's the worst situation right now. It's right on the border with Russia,” said Szwez.

Szwez is active in Phoenix's Ukrainian church community and is watching and reading the headlines while staying in touch with family.

"We are scared. You talk to them. You get emails. Things like that. But, everyone knows, once Russia makes a move into Ukraine we will lose tens of thousands of people,” added Szwez

Some people say things between Ukraine and Russia are complex. Szwez isn't one of them.

"It's real simple. Ukraine is a sovereign and independent country and all they want is to be able to make their own decisions,” added Szwez.