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New York's Ukrainian Community Praying For Peace As Reports Of Russian Invasion In Ukraine Ramp Up

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The Ukrainian community in New York City is keeping a close eye on all the developments as reports ramp up that a Russian invasion of Ukraine is imminent.

Anna Shestopalova, of the East Village, has a heart full of pride for her Ukrainian homeland and a troubled mind full of worry about the tensions there.

"I have my mom there, my sister and my cousins, so for now it's OK, but we worry because we don't know what going to be happening tomorrow, after tomorrow, even today," she told CBS2's Dave Carlin.

Born and raised in Ivano-Frankivsk, she came to the United States in 1996.

"Amazing, amazing, beautiful town. I miss that place. I hope this year, this summer, I can go back there," Shestopalova said.

She works at Ukrainian East Village Restaurant where Ron Kavral is manager.

"In the East Village, you know, it's a big Ukrainian population," he said. "So it's kind of nerve-wracking."

Bishop Paul Chomnycky, of the Ukrainan Catholic Diocese, was in Ukraine last summer. He says he prays for peace in the region every single day.

"They are defending their homeland against aggressor, and so of course, even we as Americans would do the same thing," he said.

As other countries make moves to support Ukraine in this conflict, many in this community want the United States to take even more of a lead role.

"We have an obligation, you know, to protect the sovereignty of a nation that's really under attack," said Fr. Peter Shyshka, of Saint George Ukrainian Catholic Church. "If we're wishy-washy, then the rest of the allies will see that and then it becomes a sign of weakness ... I don't want troops ... because I think that will just escalate the situation ... Aid, yes, and military hardware, yeah, that, I'm all for that."

"They will fight to the end. To the the end," Shestopalova said.

Dania Lawro made signs that she plans to hold high at a rally called "Stop Putin Now" outside the United Nations on Thursday.

"Ukraine just wants to live in a peaceful democratic society without any incursion from Russia and that's what we're hoping. And so we're hoping the world wakes up, and we're hoping that there will be sanctions placed on Putin because that's the only way we're going to stop him," she said.

The goal of Thursday's rally is to bring extra attention to the Ukrainian plight as this nervous community waits.

Editor's note: This story was first published Feb. 12.

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