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Utah Ukrainians fear for loved ones in their homeland ahead of possible Russian invasion

Posted at 9:52 PM, Feb 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-14 08:10:00-05

SALT LAKE CITY — The Department of State has issued an updated travel advisory for Ukraine, telling Americans that they must leave “due to the increased threats of Russian military action.”

Members of Utah’s Ukrainian Community fear for the safety of their loved ones overseas as tensions continue between Russia and Ukraine.

READ: Ukraine projecting calm as US sounds alarm of potential Russian invasion

“Of course I’m upset,” said Maryna. “I’m angry that it’s happening again.”

Maryna told FOX 13 News that she doesn’t want to share her last name out of concern for her family living abroad. She’s referring to 2014, when Russia invaded her home country and occupied Crimea.

“We were frustrated. It was sad,” she said. “It was unexpected because we considered Russia and Ukraine really good friends.”

She worries what will happen for her family right now. Back in 2014, she had friends who had to flee to safety.

“If they need to flee somewhere it’ll be difficult for them,” Maryna said. “There’s no place to go. I’m just concerned about their safety.”

Maryna said Utah’s Ukrainian population is small at around a thousand people, but she said they’re close and all share the same fears.

“We feel a little helpless because we don’t know how we can help Ukraine right now,” Maryna said.

One way she hopes to help is by spreading awareness of what’s going on. She intends to host a stand in solidarity event on Saturday at noon downtown. The Utah Ukrainian Association will announce the location later this week.

“It actually gives Ukrainian people more courage, if somebody pays attention to this country and their existence and independence,” said Maryna. “It gives Ukrainian people courage to defend their country.”

Back at the end of January, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints temporarily reassigned all missionaries living in Ukraine. Most of those missionaries are now in Europe.

READ: LDS missionaries moved out of Ukraine as tensions mount with Russia in eastern Europe

A spokesperson with the Church said the decision was made “out of an abundance of caution” and that “they pray for a peaceful resolution.”

Utah Representative Blake Moore shared some information on social media, saying the State Department has issued an updated travel advisory for Ukraine, adding that “if you or someone you know is in need of assistance, please contact our office.”