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Tri-State Area Ukrainians On Edge As Obama Weighs In On Russia’s Movements

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)  President Barack Obama’s message to Russia on Friday was clear: leave Ukraine alone.

As the situation continues to escalate, Ukrainians living in the Tri-State area are on edge.

President Obama Makes Statement On Situation In Ukraine

Images coming from the Ukraine show masked gunmen dressed in camouflage and carrying machine guns patrolling the streets and blocking roads, CBS 2’s Tracee Carrasco reported.

Iryna Vitkovska said she’s terrified of the uncertain future her family faces back home in the once-peaceful country.

“I think it’s very scary. I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen,” Vitkovska told Carrasco.

Vitkovska said her family is safe for now, but the effects of the situation are being felt throughout Ukraine.

“My father owns a business and they don’t know what’s going to happen with them, what kind of laws they’re going to be passing. It’s just very uncertain. They don’t even have a president,” Vitkovska said.

Passersby on Second Avenue in the East Village continued to stop at a growing memorial dedicated to those killed during the protests in Ukraine, Carrasco reported.

As compassion for Ukraine grows in Manhattan, President Obama took a stand with a stern warning for Russia.

“There would be cost to any intervention in Ukraine,” the president said Friday.

U.S. officials said the Russians are flying hundreds of troops — maybe more — into airfields in Crimea, Carrasco reported.

“It would be a clear violation of Russia’s commitment to respect the independence and sovereignty and borders of Ukraine, and of international laws,” Obama said.

Ukraine has been in turmoil after peaceful protests turned violent about a week ago and the president was ousted in a political revolt.

Father Bernard Panczuk, of Saint George Ukrainian Catholic Church, said he remains hopeful with President Obama’s support.

“No one wants war, but certainly we’d like the West to stand together,” Panczuk said.

Others, however, said they are a little more skeptical.

“If they (Russia) have a plan to attack the population then I don’t know if they will listen to him at all,” Vitkovska said.

President Obama said the U.S. will coordinate closely with our European allies, and will continue to communicate with Russia as the events unfold.

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