Crisis In Ukraine: Ukrainians In Fresno React

The turmoil in Ukraine is tough to watch for anyone.

One Ukrainian couple here in the Valley says it's heart-wrenching, to imagine what their people are going through.

Yevgeniy and Lilia Kovalenko say right now, their people are fighting for independence.

The two are originally from Ukraine.

The two met and married here in Fresno, but their families are still back in Ukraine, including Kovalenko's sister. {}

"They say it gets scary, they are advised to stay in doors with their little children," said Lilia Kovalenko.

Since last summer, the two have been glued to the news.

They say the country had already been dealing with a poor economy, but things got worse, when the Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych announced Ukraine would not be joining the European Union.

The announcement became a major source of conflict between the east and west sides of the country.

It has brought angry extremists out to the streets in violent protests.

"It had become a super corrupt government, which is what they are trying to stop today," said Kovalenko.

Since February 24th, 16,000 Russian troops have also made the trip to the Ukrainian peninsula, Crimea.

For Ukrainian's here in the Valley, the tension hits very close to home.

"Even though they say they come as peacemakers, it didn't bring any peace," said Yevgeniy Kovalenko.

Russia has said its parliament approved President Putin's use of military force to protect the millions of Russians in Crimea, and its presence in the Black Sea.

The Kovalenko's say they, and many Ukrainians don't see it that way at all.

"It's up to the Ukrainian people to decide who they join or how they go politically because enough people have died for Ukrainian independence," said Kovalenko.

The couple says they appreciate all that the U.S. government has been doing to intervene.

They hope the U.S. government as well as Russian can understand that Ukraine is an independence country that should be allowed to decide its own fate.

The Ukrainian government is slated to re-elect a new president by May of this year.