Watch CBS News

Local Ukrainians Fearful Of Russian Invasion, But Say Their Homeland Will Not Back Down From A Fight

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There were indications Monday that a Russian invasion of Ukraine is inevitable.

But as CBS2's Dick Brennan reported, diplomacy is still not done.

The State Department is closing the embassy in Kyiv and moving American diplomats out of harm's way as fears of an invasion keep growing by the day.

And as Kyiv holds its breath, family members in the U.S. can only hope for the best.

"There's a lot of pressure in the air. Everyone is waiting for Putin or Russia to make some moves," Vitalii Desiatnychenko said.

READ MORERussian Units Near Ukraine Moved Into 'Attack Positions,' U.S. Official Says

Desiatnychenko works at Veselka restaurant in the East Village, but his thoughts are with his family in Ukraine.

"I'm highly concerned about my family, because my mom and dad and some of family still live in the Ukraine and, obviously, I don't want anything to happen to them," Desiatnychenko said.

He said he just returned from Ukraine two weeks ago, adding with the buildup of Russian troops on the border, the tension grows in cities like Kyiv.

"You can't do much against Russia, who has a huge army and Russia is like 10 times bigger than Ukraine is, but Ukrainians are tough. Don't forget about that," Desiatnychenko said.

Ukraine is now close to being encircled by roughly 130,000 Russian troops. Sources tell CBS News the U.S. believes Russia could invade by the end of the week.

Russian units in Belarus have moved into attack positions along Ukraine's northern border.

READ MOREBiden' National Security Adviser: Russia Could Attack Ukraine 'Essentially At Any Time'

But Vladimir Putin has sent mixed signals, insisting diplomacy is ongoing and understanding that any invasion would be a huge undertaking against a Ukrainian army hardened by war since the Crimea invasion in 2014.

"This is the one thing these men and women have trained for for eight years," said Andrij Dobriansky, spokesman for the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America. "This is one enemy. This is not some war game. They know exactly who is attacking them."

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

In Kyiv, commuters calmly made their way to work Monday morning, though the city's subway system is also effectively its biggest bomb shelter if there is an attack.

"You have to just be prepared for this," Ukrainian war correspondent Andriy Tsapliyenko said, adding he believes an invasion would be a bloodbath. "We fight for ourselves, for our freedom, and this is a reason ... this is a reason we will fight to the end."

Pentagon officials said Monday they believe Putin has not made a final decision about an invasion, but that a Russian military action could happen any day, and with little or no warning.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.