Ukrainian Immigrant from Berkshire, Descendants Concerned About Russian Threat to Invade Homeland | Local News

Tensions in Ukraine are rising, as are Russian forces

Russian and Belarusian armored vehicles drive during joint military exercises at Brestsky firing range, Belarus. The buildup of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border has Ukrainian immigrants from Berkshire, descendants worried about an invasion.

PITTSFIELD — Natalia Ireland fears for the safety of her family in Ukraine.

The Pittsfield woman’s mother, father and brother live in the small western town of Kosiv, near the Polish border. While they are far from the reinforcement of Russian troops along the northern border, Ireland feels in danger.

“Everyone is nervous that anything could happen,” she told The Eagle in a phone interview over the weekend. “I feel a bit helpless.”

Ireland, née Volkowvetska, is among the Ukrainian immigrants from Berkshire and descendants of the Eastern European country concerned for the nearly 44 million people who live there. Locals watch daily news reports seeing tension between Russia and Ukraine rise, especially as the United States becomes more involved. President Joe Biden recently bolstered NATO forces in the region by deploying an additional 3,000 troops.

Ireland appreciates the support of the United States and the fact that more people it knows are paying attention to the political crisis.

“It gets people’s attention and they want to know why this tension,” she said.

On the surface, the tension appears to be Russian President Vladimir Putin’s opposition to Ukraine joining NATO, the political and military alliance of the United States and Western Europe formed after World War II. .

Ireland says the rift between Russia and Ukraine is not just about NATO.

“Ukraine has always been on the border of Western Europe and Western civilization and it is about the expansion of Western culture and values ​​in Ukraine,” she said.

Coming to AmericaIreland moved to the United States in 2013 after marrying Robert Ireland whom she met while he was in the Peace Corps. in Ukraine to teach English.

Ukraine Russia Tensions

Rumia, 59, a member of the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces, trains near Kiev, Ukraine. Hundreds of civilians have joined Ukrainian army reserves in recent weeks, fearing a Russian invasion.

She says her hometown is planning in case they are attacked as more Ukrainians take up arms and train for a fight, according to global reports.

If Russia and Ukraine fight, the war is likely to be bloody, according to Jim Arpante of Pittsfield whose mother’s parents were Ukrainians.

“I think it will be a hell of a fight, a conventional war with loss of life on both sides. Russians and Ukrainians are fierce fighters,” he said.

Arpante sees Puntin’s actions as those that could draw NATO countries into conflict.

“Putin is a very intelligent man; he plays Europe and the United States like a violin,” he said.

Arpante says there has always been a rift between Russia and Ukraine, evident by the way Ukrainians were treated under communist rule. He noted that his grandfather’s brother on the maternal side of the family froze to death in a forced labor camp in Siberia under dictator Joseph Stalin in the 1930s.

Trip canceledPatricia Silen had been planning a trip to Ukraine for a few years, but the global crises came on two occasions: first the pandemic two years ago and more recently the growing tension in Eastern Europe.

“I decided to cancel last month. I didn’t feel safe with all the politics going on,” the Pittsfield woman said.

Silen has mixed emotions about the threat of war hanging over Ukraine as his mother was Ukrainian and his father Russian.

Given Ukraine’s rich agricultural land and mineral resources, the battle would be for control of a key European economy.

“I have the impression that Putin wants to take control of Ukraine which is the ‘bread basket’ of Europe,” she said.

Ireland doubts that war is inevitable, but the tense situation could go in that direction.

“I’m sure all parties want peace, but at what price for that peace,” she said.

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