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'We worry every minute': As Ukraine-Russia crisis escalates, Arizonans with Ukrainian families wonder what's next?

Irene Renstrom wants other countries to step up to prevent a country from taking over her family's homeland.

PHOENIX — As Russian troops moved closer and closer to the Ukrainian border, Irene Renstrom watched.

She watched the local news, cable, along with broadcasts in Russia and Ukraine to better understand what was happening.

"We worry every minute," Renstrom said.

Renstrom has lived in Arizona for decades but still has family in Ukraine. She was born in a German labor camp. Her family split up because of WWII. After the war, her aunt was taken to Siberia for fighting Russian control.

“It’s touched us. The Russian hand has been there,” Renstrom said.

Monday, Russian President Putin declared two areas of Ukraine as independent, before ordering Russian troops to move in.

“There is an interest in recapturing the glory of a larger Russia,” Daniel Rothenberg, co-director of the future of war at ASU, said.

He said the impacts of this move will be felt for years. Likely the biggest impact is the threat to state sovereignty.

“No one knows where it is going, Putin doesn’t know, Biden doesn’t know,” Rothenberg said.

While Russia moves in, CNN reports some Ukrainian civilians are training themselves to offer their own defense.

“It’s hard to watch these people suffer that are my countrymen,” Renstrom said.

 “We don’t know where it will end up. It breaks my heart to know it could go back to where it was. And that would be awful."

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