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'We feel helpless': Northeast Ohioans from Ukraine express shock and worry as Russia invades country

'Probably everyone here with family in the Ukraine only slept three or four hours, at the most,' Andriy Voyetskiy told us.

PARMA, Ohio — It was in 1992 when, at the age of 17, Andriy Voyetskiy immigrated from Ukraine to Greater Cleveland.

"It's a huge Ukrainian community, home away from home," he said. "That's why we immigrated to Parma."

As one would expect, the Russian of invasion of his native country is deeply affecting him.

"It didn't happen overnight," he lamented. "The conflict was growing."

Northeast Ohio is home to thousands of people who have come here from Ukraine, along with similar numbers of Russian immigrants.

"Thousands of Russian and Ukranian families that are married together," community activist and former Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman told 3News. "This is something that a lot of people are feeling this closely right now in absolute shock and horror."

All with feelings of worry, concern, and frustration.

"It's a terrible feeling," Voyetskiy said. "We feel helpless."

Voyetskiy visited Ukraine just two weeks ago. Wednesday night, as explosions were heard across the country, he spent his time checking in on family.

"I only slept three hours last night [due to] talking to my family," he admitted. "Probably everyone here with family in the Ukraine only slept three or four hours, at the most, because everyone has relatives and family there and that's where we were born."

This past weekend, those at Saint Josaphat Church in Parma held flags in support of Ukraine – and some flags protesting the Russian president. This morning, Ukrainian flags were installed in in the city.

Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Global Cleveland, and the Jewish Federation of Cleveland released a joint statement condemning the attack, also noting, "Cleveland is home to a beautiful, vibrant community made up of thousands of Ukrainians and Russians, and we will continue to be a safe, unifying place for those seeking peace and prosperity."

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