NewsPalm Beach County


South Florida Ukrainians concerned about home country

Posted at 10:28 PM, Feb 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-23 08:39:27-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — At any given time, you can find people from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine enjoying the tasty food at Mama Bella Gourmet Market and Cafe in downtown West Palm Beach. Since it's a gathering place for those closely connected to eastern Europe, the crisis in Ukraine is front and center in those discussions.

Liudmila Nesserenco is a chef at the cafe. She moved to the U.S. six years ago from Ukraine. What is going on in her home country hurts her heart.

A translator helped to convey her message.

"What's happening right now, she truly believes they will find the roots of unity," the translator said. "Historically, they are brothers and sisters. She hopes they find proper ground and find a way to solve the problems peacefully."

According to Robert Rabil, a political science professor at Florida Atlantic University, the crisis between Russia and Ukraine has been building since the 1990s.

"This is on the account of two factors. The first factor is the expansion of NATO to the border of Russia, merely, especially to the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia," Rabil said. "The second factor is from a Russian perspective they believe that they treated Russia like a bygone power."

Rabil said with increased sanctions underway and formal diplomatic channels not working, the west could be pushing Russia to deepen its ties to other regimes globally.

"It might go to Iran and it will support Iran in acquiring or hastening the acquisition of nuclear weapons," he added. "It will deepen its embrace with China."

Liudmila said she wants her country to stay together.

"She wants it to stay united," the translator said. "She doesn't want anyone to chop pieces out of Ukraine or separate the people."