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Former Ukrainian native weighs in on conflict with Russia

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Tensions continue to build overseas from the turmoil over the Ukraine-Russia conflicts.

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has been ongoing since 2014, but those who call Ukraine home say despite the growing number of Russian troops forming at the border of Ukraine, they fear for their loved ones.

Olena Lennon moved from her hometown in Eastern Ukraine to come to the United States to pursue her Ph.D. but later returned home in 2011 just before chaos erupted in 2014.

“The revolution started and the so-called separatists supported by the Russian government were taking over local government buildings in my hometown and my family and I were just in total disbelief,” Lennon said.

Now a U.S. citizen, Lennon travels back to Ukraine yearly to see her family, but under the current circumstances of Russian troops looking to make an advance on Ukraine, the uncertainty of what might happen next is invoking all too familiar feelings of living in a constant war zone.

“They sort of life in a war zone as is but there were a few times in 2015 where things got really bad and my family had to leave on short notice…” she said.

Despite having to leave, her family and friends later returned to Eastern Ukraine.

But in spite of having no resolution to the ongoing turmoil, Lennon says Ukrainians have developed a sort of desensitization.

“People are acting as if they are not worried because they are just numb… and I think fear has just paralyzed everybody," Lennon said. "It has definitely paralyzed me because I feel like it is groundhog day where you feel as if it is all over then it is back again.”

With the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine ordering the evacuation of U.S. Citizens to leave the country, Lennon worries about the evacuation plans for her own family.

“There are no evacuation plans everybody is just fending for themselves but the one response I hear across the board is that people are preparing to fight,” she said.

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Cindy Centofanti

Cindy is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about her here.

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