Ukrainian-American in Rochester weighs in on escalating tensions with Russia

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The Russia-Ukraine crisis continues to pose a lot of questions not just for world leaders but also for the families impacted by the situation.

News10NBC’s Jenny Ly met with a local man with ties to the war-torn region and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer Monday said he stands with Ukraine.

“What I would say is very simple—that Putin should know that sanctions will be imposed, and they will be strong, effective and swift,” Schumer said. “The president has the ability to impose those sanctions whenever he chooses.”

Andrey Chiley was born in Ukraine and moved here to Rochester in 2004.

Ly: "What are your thoughts on sanctions? Do you think that’s enough?"

Chiley: "Um…believe it or not, yes. I think if Russia wants to invade, Russia’s going to invade… and they’re willing to pay whatever the cost."

Chiley was born in southeast Ukraine, a couple hundred miles from the conflict region, and his mom’s side of the family is all living there now.

“What they’re telling me is that Russian citizens are being driven across the border by the busloads and relocated to parts of eastern Ukraine that are currently occupied by rebels as if they’re living there permanently, which is a very questionable move,” Chiley said.

Chiley lost classmates from the conflict in 2014 and says his family is frantically trying to get visas to escape the war-torn region.

“They initially, a couple months ago, weren’t overly concerned, but in the last few weeks they’ve become fairly concerned about inevitable invasion,” Chiley said.

Thousands of miles away from his birth country, Chiley says he just wants the best outcome for his family.

“I’m a combination of concerned and privileged. I am happy that I am here safe sitting at home comfortably, but at the same time concerned about my family’s wellbeing in Ukraine. I’m hoping that they can escape the issue before war comes knocking on the door,” he said.

On Monday, President Vladimir Putin formally recognized the independence of two Moscow-backed breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine. The move by Putin will likely be seen by the U.S. and eastern allies as a preemptive move to invade Ukraine.