South Florida Russians & Ukrainians Worried About ‘Invasion’

SUNNY ISLES (CBSMiami) – With President Joe Biden officially calling it an “invasion,” and with the economic screws turning, the few who would speak to CBS4 News in Sunny Isles are growing worried.

”Right now I’m scared,” said Zenhya.

“No comment, I don’t want to talk about this,” Stella, who didn’t want her last name used, told us.

“They’re afraid to say anything,” Zenhya explained.

Outside Kalinka’s Deli, Zenhya, the St. Petersburg, Russia native told us his fellow countrymen are fearful of speaking out, even from the seemingly safe confines of Sunny Isles, for fear of what could happen if they ever return home.

Zenhya is the exception, “I am concerned, it’s heading into an all-out conflict.”

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President Biden’s concern is now apparent too. Tuesday afternoon, he referred to Russia’s military escalation as an “invasion,” while slapping more sanctions against Russia, including against its financial institutions and the very wealthy.

“The oligarchs who are the rich people and the Silovicki, which are former security force people, so that would be former military, former intelligence. Between those two, (they) run everything on behalf of Vladimir Putin,” explained Dr. Alex Crowther, Professor of Public Policy at FIU.

“The whole idea is to make their life extremely painful by sanctioning them,” Crowther added.

Another professor, Dr. David Kilroy, Nova Southeastern University’s Chair of Humanities and Politics, outlined why the Russia-Ukraine conflict is of concern to Americans half a world away.

“If Russia gets its way, it really will be a chilling consequence for Democrat-elected regimes seeking to pursue its own independent foreign policy,” said Kilroy.

The professor added, “Part of the sanction strategy that Russia is pursuing is aimed at individuals, reducing their ability to engage in financial transactions.”

Quite possibly, eventually even squeezing some wealthy Russian’s wallets right here in Sunny Isles, affecting popular businesses like Kalinka’s Deli, who help put bread on its employees’ tables.

”There’s a lot of wealthy Russians that come here so they’ll be sanctions, so (they) won’t be able to bring money here, or use bank and credit cards and there’s a lot of businesses here that depend on this money,” Zenhya explained.

He told us there’s still time for a sweet ending to the increasingly souring relations between Russia and the U.S. and its allies, with this message to Vladimir Putin.

”There is still time to stop this nonsense and start talking to people more, and one thing to him (Putin), start trusting people.”