After tanks roll by parents’ house, local Ukrainian leader says ‘I am very mad and angry right now’

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — When one of the leaders of the Ukrainian community in Rochester spoke to News10NBC, he said Russian tanks had just driven by his parent’s home.

Brean: "What is your family telling you from Ukraine?"

Oleg Lebedko: "Well they are hearing explosions. My parents saw Russian tanks, more than 100 Russian tanks and armored vehicles passing by their window and they hear a lot of fighting and a lot of casualties on both sides."

Oleg Lebedko runs the Ukrainian Federal Credit Union. His parents live near the Russian border and Lebedko says they are not in good health

Brean: "Do you feel helpless being so far away?"

Lebedko: "Not hopeless but a little helpless because my family is there and I even wrote to them this morning that I don’t know how to help but will do everything possible as Americans here with our community to help in any way possible. I can’t believe this has happened in Europe in the 21st century and that nobody can stop that maniac from killing so many people. I’m sorry to use strong language but I am very mad and angry right now at what’s going on."

Brean: "What would you like the people of our community to do?"

Lebedko: "We need to stand united and understand that this is not only about Ukraine. We need to understand that if this happens to Ukraine it can happen anywhere."

When we think about how this war affects us, we have neighbors with family in Ukraine who see tanks driving by their homes, missiles going over their roofs and plumes of smoke outside their windows.

"If this is what Putin does today, what can he possibly do tomorrow?" asked Roman Osipov.

Osipov is 30 years old. He was born in Ukraine but he lives here now. He shared messages he exchanged with his cousin in the eastern part of the country, where part of the invasion started.

"I reached out to my cousin ‘how’s everything? Is everyone okay?’" Osipov said. "She says ‘hello, I don’t really have time to chat right now. We’re packing our bags. We’re leaving our apartment as quickly as possible.’"

He shared a video from another friend where you can hear a child scream.

"I’ll put the volume up here. You can clearly see the airplane coming in here, the jet. The bombs going off (child cries) and you could hear the kids just screaming," Osipov said.

"Who’s going to hear the cries of those kids? Are we going to stop them?"

"So right here is an image of smoke billowing through the windows," said Dennis Pavlyuk.

Pavlyuk is 21 years old. His friend in western Ukraine shared the video of the smoke outside the window. Pavlyuk runs RocMaiden, a nonprofit through the Ukrainian Cultural Center, which collects medical and clothing supplies for Ukraine.

"It is important to speak our truth," he said. "And it is important that our truth is heard."