NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — More than 8,500 U.S. troops could soon be on their way to the border of Ukraine where Russia has deployed more than 100,000 over several months.
So far, there’s been no official decision on deploying troops to the region. There’s been no clarity on if the U.S. and NATO forces will wait for Russian President Vladimir Putin to make the first move.
Putin has said that intervention from Western countries will only raise tensions even further. U.S. legislators are torn on whether to tread lightly and avoid giving Putin more reasons to feel threatened.
At Aleksey’s Market in Nashville, different flags, foods, and East European cultures share shelves the way they share borders. Once a customer walks in the door, the Ukrainian and Russian flags hang side-by-side.
It’s part of why Alina Skye called this latest conflict heartbreaking. She was born in Estonia and while she’s not directly connected to either country, she’s sad to know they’re once again on the brink of war.
“Once the conflict occurs and the war occurs, it takes generations to rebuild and get back to peace. It’s breaking apart families,” Skye said.
Olga Kryshtal is a native of Ukraine and said it couldn’t be more true. The common thread that binds these former Soviet Union states has been Russia. Most speak the language, but these days there’s not much talk.
“Some people from Russia, we can’t even talk now,” Kryshtal said.
Kryshtal tries to avoid talking about politics but said she’s heard friends from Russia say they also want no part of Putin’s plans.
“This is not about culture or if people want to be Russian or Ukrainian. This is only about territory,” Kryshtal said.
Kryshtal said her family in Ukraine was told to pack and prepare for the worst. She said the government has asked everyone to have a special bag ready in case of a mass exodus.
Putin insists he has no intentions of invading, but Kryshtal and other world leaders say this may be no different than the bloody 2014 takeover of Crimea. World leaders sanctioned Russia for their actions by removing the country from what was then known as the G8. A group composed of the eight major world economies.
That’s when Russia invaded the Ukrainian territory of Crimea that claimed more than 13,000 lives. Kryshtal knows her country will not stand down and just like the flags of the market, she hopes they won’t stand alone.
“It’s been a very difficult time. We just hope that the U.S. government can help us because it’s a strong country and this is our only hope for now,” Kryshtal said.
The U.S. State Department has recommended that all U.S. citizens in Ukraine leave the country immediately. They’ve also issued an order for eligible family members of state officials to leave the country.