New Jersey's Ukrainian community worried for friends, family overseas
The threat of war between Russia and Ukraine is worrisome for some Ukrainian Americans living in New Jersey.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA has roots in New Jersey, and religious leaders are offering emotional support to those impacted.
Archbishop Daniel Zelinsky says his parents and brother live in Ukraine. There is growing concern over a full-scale invasion.
"If that were to happen, it’s major devastation that will take place. The loss of human life is gonna be incomprehensible,” Zelinsky says.
Zelinsky was in Ukraine less than two weeks ago. He says that even in the face of the Russian threat, the message in the capital city was that people want to move on.
“Peace, stability, a future for their children. And that’s what Ukrainians are aspiring for,” Zelinsky says.
Gov. Phil Murphy called Zelinsky on Wednesday to offer support to New Jersey’s Ukrainian community. The governor spoke about the situation during his COVID-19 briefing.
"Vladimir Putin is a thug…This is a bad, bad, bad dude,” Murphy said.
LIVE UPDATES: The latest developments on the Russia-Ukraine Crisis
The governor said he is focused on how the threat could impact New Jersey. Soldiers deployed overseas, energy prices rising and the threat of cyberattacks.
"Definitely cyberthreat actors taking advantage of the situation,” says Stanley Mierzwa, of the Kean University Center or Cyber Security.
Mierzwa says the U.S. has seen it during the pandemic. Others believe Russia will hit America with cyberattacks in response to sanctions.
"Infrastructure sectors that are important to the viability of our country,” Mierzwa says.
This chapter between Russia and Ukraine goes back eight years. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church just marked the deadly anniversary of a pro-democracy uprising.
"It's a surreal moment for all of us because we're honoring the memory of the lost and now we're being attacked all over again,” Zelinsky says.
The archbishop says Ukraine should be entered into NATO right away. NATO would then have to defend it. This has not made any headway in recent weeks.