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'Fighting For Our Freedom': Locals Fear For Loved Ones As War In Ukraine Escalates

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) -- An escalating war in Eastern Europe has affected the lives of hundreds here in Sacramento. The local Ukrainian community gathered on the steps of the capitol, Thursday, to pray for peace as violence continues in Ukraine.

The crowd sang their country's national anthem.

"We're going to be fighting for our freedom and we're going to be managing our land," said Roman Romaso.

He roughly translated a portion of the anthem and says he once called Ukraine home.

"We came here to let the people know what's happened in Ukraine," he said.

A full-scale Russian attack has Sacramento residents with family in the region fearing the worst.

"We lost connection with them, they are not responding," Max Semenenko said.

His cousins, uncles and best friend live in Kyiv, which is the capital of Ukraine and the center of the conflict zone.

"If Russia will occupy the whole Ukraine, they will be on the list to be arrested," Semenenko said of his loved ones.

Semnenko's best friend, who did not want to be identified, took video in Kyiv and shared it with CBS13 exclusively. Missiles can be seen and heard exploding over Ukraine's capital city. Moments after the explosions, he fled to Poland.

"I'm kind of shaking and emotional. I'm an American now and I know what freedom is and I think they're in the front right now fighting for their freedom," Semenenko said.

Some people are on the front lines and others are there for support, including Chad Martz, the son of a Roseville man, who lives in Ukraine and hasn't left

"I would say we're safe. Again, we don't know what's going to be happening," Martz said.

He's there working with his organization Hungry For Life International.

"We're preparing for those who are fleeing from the conflict zone already. How can we turn our back on them when they're looking for help we can provide?" Martz said.

They have resources like shelter, food and first aid.

"It's unbelievable the amount of resolve the Ukrainian people have," Martz said.

While working in the middle of a war, he says he wants his father in Roseville to know one thing.

"We're OK. Even if things turn out really bad, we're OK," he said

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