Families fearful for loved ones as Russia-Ukraine crisis worsens

Rep. Elissa Slotkin says not to ignore what's happening
Ukraine and United states flag
Posted at 10:35 PM, Feb 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-14 15:07:28-04

WARREN, Mich. (WXYZ) — As the world watches the current situation between Ukraine and Russia from thousands of miles away, a member of the local Ukrainian community says his family members back home are now past worry and fear.

“The Ukrainian people having been at war now for eight years are approaching what is coming with unbelievable calm,” Borys Potapenko said. He’s a member of the Ukrainian Crisis Response Committee of Michigan.

Potapenko says in the midst of their calming approach, Russian troops are moving toward Ukraine’s border.

Potapenko’s 80-year-old brother and nephew are back in Ukraine, and they have no plans on fleeing.

“Nobody intends to leave, they all intend to stay and fight,” Potapenko said.

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin is ordering troops into two regions that belong to Ukraine.

Putin is recognizing those provinces as “independent.”

President Joe Biden is calling this a “violation of international law” and responded on Tuesday with several sanctions.

“This could have an effect on the Russian economy,” Western Michigan University professor Jim Butterfield, Ph.D., said.

The political science professor says these sanctions are designed to slow Russia down. Other nations including Germany are also taking drastic measures against Russia.

“What Germany did immediately yesterday was stop any consideration of the big pipeline that goes under the Baltic Sea, which Russia really wants to get underway,” he explained.

The crisis taking place across the globe could start impacting people here in Michigan very soon.

Rep. Elissa Slotkin told people back in Michigan Tuesday on CNN not to ignore what is happening in Eastern Europe.

“We are going to see — with what Russia has done — the price of gas unfortunately go up and in a district where people drive 40 miles one way to work, you better believe the cost of gas is already a pain for them, huge pain,” Slotkin said, adding that right now, it’s waiting game.

“It’s watching how they respond in the next couple of days. Nobody wants nuclear powers to be in close contact in such a sensitive region in the world,” she continued.

Biden is assuring that the United State would continue providing security assistance and support to Ukraine.

“I would expect us to see more supplying, more military arms, material, technical knowledge, financial assistance and public humanitarian assistance for Ukraine going forward,” Butterfield said.

Potapenko and the Ukrainian Crisis Response Committee of Michigan are being proactive. They are collecting donations to send back home just in case things turn in a different direction.

He says donations will go to “orphanages, they will be going to wounded soldier rehabilitation and they will be going to civic organizations that are hankering down providing them with water, food and clothing.”

To donate to the Ukrainian Crisis Response Committee of Michigan’s humanitarian efforts, visit