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Concern Grows Within Sacramento Slavic Community Over Russia-Ukraine Tensions

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — President Joe Biden has been meeting with his national security team over the escalating crisis between Russia and Ukraine.

The United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting Monday evening at the request of Ukraine.

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared two parts of Ukraine belong to him and moved Russian forces into those breakaway regions.

It has many in Sacramento's Slavic community worried about an invasion. Roman Romaso has more than 30 loved ones in Ukraine and says they're terrified this could be the start of a war.

"It's very hard, it's very hard," he said.

Romaso has been glued to his phone and his television anxious to hear updates from family.

"It's very hard to make a plan in this situation because we don't know what could happen," he said.

Romaso is the director of the Slavic Assistance Center in Sacramento. He says maintaining a sense of calm given the chaos with Russia has been challenging, especially after new signs that an invasion is imminent.

"My words to all the people of Ukraine: Be calm and continue to pay for the peace," Romaso said.

Putin oversaw nuclear military drills over the weekend. Half of his 190,000 troops on Ukraine's border are ready to attack.

"It could happen any day," said John Kirby, Pentagon press secretary. "Today could be that day."

The White House responded by saying President Biden will impose sanctions on anyone doing business in those republics in eastern Ukraine. European allies call Putin's move a violation of international law. They, too, promise to respond with sanctions.

"What we have done is indicate to the world that this is not something Russia has been provoked into. This is a brutal war of choice that Russia will be perpetrating on its neighbor," said Jake Sullivan, a national security advisor.

As the world watches, Romaso is focused on his loved ones planning an escape, if necessary.

"They told me, [in] the worst scenario, they are going to move out of Ukraine, probably escape to a safe place, maybe to Poland," Romaso said.

President Biden says he will not send U.S forces into Ukraine if Russia invades.

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