Ukrainians in the Milwaukee area brace for war with Russia

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Ukrainian Americans in the Milwaukee area are trying to stay calm as family and friends back home are pushed closer to the brink of war with Russia.

Meanwhile, resulting economic sanctions could impact the entire global economy, and that could mean higher prices for most of us right here in Wisconsin.

Some of the Ukrainians we spoke with believe war is all but inevitable. They and their extended families are preparing as if it will happen soon. But they describe a calm resilience, and a readiness to fight for their homes.

Oleg Onyskiv has family in Ukraine. He said, "It’s very hard. First of all we are worrying because some of my family members probably will go to the war."

Onyskiv usually visits his family in Ukraine once a year. But as a Russian invasion appears imminent, he's left to monitor the situation from southeastern Wisconsin.

It's the same for Halyna Salapata, who talks to her brother and sister in Ukraine every day. She said, "They say that they are calm, they didn’t panic. They are ready to protect their homes, that’s what I hear a lot."

Even as tensions rise, Halyna says her sister and her two children are unlikely to leave their home in western Ukraine. She said, "My sister said to me after I told her I wish you were here, I’d feel much better, she said I have a cat and a dog and two kids, what do you mean? It’s my house."

And she says others feel similarly. "My brother said in a worst-case scenario, I’ll take my family to Poland, but I’ll come back to fight for my country. I wanted to cry."

In an effort to deter Putin from invading, the US has already imposed some economic sanctions, which some analysts believe could still force Russia to back away from full-scale war.

Alex Hollings, the editor in chief at Sandboxx.us, said, "A war in Europe, especially a large-scale war between NATO and Russia, would be bad for literally everyone. Russia included, and they’re well aware of that."

Hollings says Russia accounts for 30% of gas and 40% of all oil supplied to Europe, and prices around the world will be impacted if Russian supply is cut off. He said, "I think it's very likely we're going to see gas prices start to go up in anticipation of a conflict already. And chances are good we'll see gas prices get even higher if a fight were to actually break out."

But despite the possibility of war, Ukrainian Americans in Wisconsin are confident their country will turn back the threat. Onyskiv said, "I believe in Ukrainian strength. And I believe we will not give Putin a chance to get and grab Ukraine."

Onyskiv said it means so much to the Ukrainian community when Americans reach out to ask how they're doing and how they can help.

Halyna Salapata said of her family, "I hope I’ll be able to see them again and enjoy a peaceful and beautiful Ukraine."

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