CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Imagine you're home under constant threat from another country.
The specter of war looming large. That is the case for people in the Ukraine and people right here in North Carolina are feeling the danger.
Tensions are escalating along the Ukranian border tonight. Tuesday, President Joe Biden met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and told him Moscow will face severe economic pain if it tries to attack Ukraine.
Oleh Wolowyna was 5 years old in a picture dating back to 1942. It's one of the very few pictures he has of himself as a child living in western Ukraine.
His family was forced to leave Ukraine after Wolowyna says his father was on the communist list to be shot.
“So, it was either stay and die, or flee like thousands of other people like us," Wolowyna said.
He’s lived in the U.S. ever since, but has served the country he was born in from afar.
“The purpose is to get all the facts, analyze them and publicize them," Wolowyna said.
He’s a fellow at UNC Chapel Hill where he’s studying the 1932-33 Soviet famine.
“Its a tragedy that's not well known," Wolowyna said.
Today, though, he's taking a small break from his research to explain a more pressing matter.
"Our main concern now is Mr. Putin going to invade Ukraine again," Wolowyna said.
Wolowyna says Putin is against the entire democratic system in western Europe.
"He wants to make sure Ukraine doesn't become a successful democracy because it will threaten his power in Russia," Wolowyna said.
In 2014, Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula after then Ukrainian President Piktor Yanukovych rejected to join the European Union, instead becoming more friendly with Moscow.
“There has been a war going on for seven years, people die every year," Wolowyna said.
Wolowyna is worried many more people will die if Russia decides to invade Ukraine.
"The army in Ukraine is in much better shape than in 2014, but it's still not a match against such a massive invasion, probably thousands will die, and it will end up in a guerrilla war," Wolowyna said.
Wolowna says he believes Putin will get away with invading Ukraine if the United States and other European countries don't step up with more strict sanctions against Russia.