For one Ukrainian American family, a mix of anger, fear and regret
Updated 11:16 AM ET, Sat February 26, 2022
Sandy Springs, Georgia (CNN)Alex Podebryi has barely slept in three days.
In the dead of night he scans livestreams for updates on the Russian forces invading his home country. He zooms in on social media videos of tanks rolling into Ukrainian cities.
He watches images on TV of shell-shocked Ukrainians fleeing for their lives and wonders how long it will take for the Russians to reach the western city of Lviv, where nearly three dozen of his relatives live.
Whenever he gets new information he calls his father in Buffalo, New York. His father, also glued to the news, calls him too. Podebryi's phone buzzes at all hours.
"He's distraught and distracted," his wife, Lauren Podebryi, says from their home in this Atlanta suburb.
"He wakes up in the middle of the night to check the news. He doesn't sleep. He's constantly on the phone with his dad all hours of the night."
He feels a complex surge of emotions
There are over 1 million people of Ukrainian ancestry in the United States, according to 2019 census estimates. Like Podebryi, many have worried for months that Russian President Vladimir Putin would launch an attack after soldiers and weapons began massing near Ukraine's borders.
As Russia fires air and missile attacks, and ground forces enter the capital city of Kyiv, Podebryi and other Ukrainian-American families are watching the unfolding crisis with terror.
Before the Russian military started firing rockets at Ukrainian cities, the dentist spent his evenings sprawled on the floor playing with his 3-year-old daughter and 9-month-old son.
The last few days, he's been too preoccupied by the constant hum of news on the Russian invasion -- suddenly consumed by the grim reality unfolding some 5,000 miles away.
On Friday afternoon Podebryi sits on a gray sofa in a sparse living room dotted with children's drawings and Ukrainian mementos. His eyes dart between a flurry of news coverage on his phone and a television perched in the center of the room.
The infant's occasional squeals punctuate a room where the only other sounds are blasts from Russian airstrikes on television.
One of Podebryi's most prized possessions -- a spiky Ukrainian club called a bulava and considered a symbol of strength in his home country -- sits on a shelf nearby.