Former Westchester resident living in Ukraine recounts his experience in wake of Russian incursion
A former Westchester resident who now lives in Ukraine shared with News 12 his experience in the country in the wake of attacks by Russia.
Yaroslav Kinach been living in the center of Kyiv for almost 30 years. He left the city since the Russian incursion.
"We decided to relocate to our friend's home in the outskirts of the city about 30 kilometers away," Kinach said. "We heard explosions in the distance, [saw] smoke in the distance and then we saw videos posted from friends in the city limits and that really put the fear in us. That triggered us to need to get out."
Kinach explained that he took items with him to help him re-start.
"We took our key belongings, and this is mostly paper, ownership, jewels family relics and that's it. You take just the bare essentials that will enable you in the future if required to reestablish ownership, to reestablish yourself in a different country," he said.
For Kinach, whose family fled Ukraine during World War II, it feels like history is indeed bound to repeat itself.
"It sort of brought to mind my folks who, in 1944, had to pack up and leave and all they had was a suitcase, and here I am in the 21st century, and I'm in the same position. This is kind of crazy, right? And what's even worse, it's the same region. It was Stalin and now Putin. What is the difference?" Kinach said.
But getting to another country right now, it's a risk he's not willing to take because he said it's "outright dangerous."
In fact, friends of his tried to flee to Poland Thursday night, but after driving all night and day they arrived at the border and there was a line of cars 30 kilometers long waiting to cross the border.
"Can you imagine being in a car 30 kilometers away from the border crossing? You are alone in a car. God knows what's around you. You're vulnerable to weather, to air strikes -- all kinds of things. You run out of gas, you have no food, the weather turns against you. What do you do?" Kinach said.
But Ukrainians are ready to fight back, and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is ready to arm civilians.
"The mayor of the city and Zelenskyy's people as well, that if you wish to take up arms, there are places that you can go and register and they will give you firearms, for personal and to defend your country," Kinach said.
And as gas prices continue to soar here in the United States, in Ukraine its significantly worse.
"To put in context, the average price a year or so ago, was probably about $200 and now its $1,100," he said.
Normal feels like a distant memory and what the future has in store for Kinach is anyone's guess, so he is staying put.
"We will stay with them until its safe. If it becomes unsafe to be with them, they, likes ourselves, will jump in the car and head West for any border country," Kinach said.
In the meantime, a day of prayer will be held at St. Michael's Ukrainian Catholic Church in Yonkers on Sunday.
Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano and Westchester County Executive George Latimer are both expected to attend.