Kitchener-Waterloo

Waterloo, Ont., man fears for family living an hour from Russia-Ukraine border

Michael Doroshenko's family is the last thing he thinks about before he falls asleep at night — and the first thing he thinks of when he wakes up. The Waterloo man’s parents and grandmother live in Sumy, Ukraine, about an hour drive from the border with Russia.

'We don't know what time they're going to attack, and if they're going to attack'

Michael Doroshenko, shown with his daughter, is a Ukrainian citizen now living in Waterloo, Ont. He's worried for his family living in Ukraine due to the potential threat of an invasion by Russia. (Submitted by Michael Doroshenko)

Michael Doroshenko's family is the last thing he thinks about before he falls asleep at night — and the first thing he thinks of when he wakes up. 

The Waterloo, Ont., man's parents and grandmother live in Sumy, Ukraine, about an hour drive from the border with Russia. About 100,000 troops have been positioned along the country's borders, leading to concerns Russia could be preparing for a full-scale invasion. 

"It's been pretty nervous for everybody," said Doroshenko, 30, a Ukrainian citizen who moved to the region to study and now works in the tech industry. 

"We don't know what time they're going to attack, and if they're going to attack."

Doroshenko may be overcome with worry, but said his parents have, in a way, grown used to the looming threat of Russia. 

For nearly eight years, fighting has been ongoing between Russia-backed rebels and the Ukrainian military in Donbas, Ukraine's industrial heartland. Thousands have been killed. 

Myroslaw Tataryn, pastor at the Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Transfiguration in Kitchener, Ont., says his friend and family in Ukraine have been living with the threat of conflict for a long time. (Submitted by Myroslaw Tataryn)

Myroslaw Tataryn,  pastor of the Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Transfiguration in Kitchener, Ont., said he's also heard from friends and family in Ukraine who are, in a way, almost numb to the situation. 

Canada would sanction Russian officials 

"There's anxiety on the one hand, but on the other hand, there's the reality that we've been living with this for so long … it's almost like business as usual," said Tataryn. 

Doroshenko said he appreciates the support Canada has offered Ukraine, but believes the government could do more to deter Russia and "support Ukraine militarily."

On Friday, Global Affairs Canada announced the government has offered Ukraine a loan of up to $120 million "to support the country's economic resilience and governance reforms."

Earlier in the week, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said Canada will join allies in imposing severe sanctions on Russian officials if the country takes further military action to compromise Ukrainian sovereignty.

She has not confirmed whether Canada would answer Ukraine's requests for weapons and military hardware. 

If further conflict does erupt between Russia and Ukraine, he said, Canada should consider accepting Ukrainian refugees.

"It's going to be a huge humanitarian crisis." 

Potential 'huge humanitarian crisis'

For now, Doroshenko is been glued to the news, and is trying to help his family make plans in case an invasion does happen. He said it's been difficult given the unpredictability of the situation. 

"Nobody knows where it will be safe in the next week or two weeks or two months," he said. 

"The contingency plans we make, they are only as good as the situation will allow."

With files from Nick Boisvert and The Canadian Press

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