Ukrainian Americans in Rochester react to invasion

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WEBSTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Local Ukrainians have been filing into the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Webster Thursday evening and looking pretty grim after Russia attacked their homeland Wednesday night.

News10NBC Reporter and Anchor Charles Molineaux went there, where people are talking about how to get help back to their family members who are still in Ukraine. We were asked not to go into the meeting because it will largely be in Ukrainian and organizers want people to feel like they can speak freely.

The news from Ukraine has been both stunning and unsurprising for quite a few in this community.

Some of them say they’ve been waiting for this shoe to drop since the Russians invaded the Ukrainian region of Crimea in 2014. Now they’re trying to put together aid, like medical supplies, for the people of Crimea.

They also admit it could be tough and slow to get it to them because their travel is now cut off and so our supply routes, except possibly through Poland. They’re also calling for more, tougher, economic punishments against Russia.

Some of these Ukrainians have become longtime Americans and fought for the U.S. Now they say they are hoping the U.S. will stand for Ukraine.

"Ukrainians want democracy," said U.S. Military veteran and Ukrainian immigrant Eugene Sydor. "They want independence. And the United States needs to do everything that it can to support fledgling democracies. Because, if we don’t, then what we are doing is we are selling a bill of goods to everybody else. And you can’t tell me the autocrats of the world aren’t watching our response."

"If there are any people coming to the United States from Ukraine, we’ll have them as much as we can," said U.S. Military veteran and Ukrainian immigrant Bohdan Cholach. "This is a big Ukrainian community Rochester. I wish I could go there but, no, too [I’m] old."

"You mean you’d want to go and fight against Putin?" Molineaux asked.

"Yeah, I spent 37 years in the military, so…" Cholach said.

Some of this group will be taking their appeal to us leaders in person. They are planning a private meeting with Rep. Joe Morelle (D, NY-25) at the center this weekend.