Marina Zaloznaya has first-hand experience being in Ukraine. She's originally from there and is now a professor at the University of Iowa. She's been watching very closely the events leading up to Thursday's invasion by the Russian military.

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Professor Zaloznaya has been staying in touch with family and friends there and they say that not only Ukrainians are frightened, but also many Russians.

"It is difficulty to wrap your mind around the fact that this is the first land-based confrontation in Europe since Second World War, and that Ukrainians and Russians really do like each other there and really do not want this war," she said in an interview with KWWL's Daniel Perreault. "They're united and do not want this war. This has been a surprise for everyone."

Ukraine was once part of Russia before the Soviet Union collapsed. Since gaining independence, Ukraine has been wanting to join NATO but Putin opposes this entry.

According to Zaloznaya, Putin is doing this very much against what the majority of Russians want.

"Culturally, religiously, and linguistically the differences are minimal. Most people have a relative or to in the other country, so this is a tragedy that is comparable to civil war. People are being asked to stand up and fight against their families a lot of the time." - Professor Marina Zaloznaya

The president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, has been downplaying the possibility of a Russian invasion up to now, to keep Ukrainians calm and to not cause a panic.

Russin President Putin has been making speeches about why the invasion is to occur, blaming Ukrainians for mistreating two regions of the country held by Russian separatists. He claims to be fighting back fascism and comparing it to World War II.

Professor Zaloznaya says it's a false tactic that can work on many because of the imagery of what happened during the war. "Nothing stands quite as emotionally charged as the memory of fighting fascism under the Second World War," she said.

"The motivation [Putin] has given now is that Ukraine and the West have failed to provide guarantees that Ukraine will not become an official member of NATO and that NATO forces will not be moving into the Ukrainian territory."

Professor Zaloznaya warns that the best thing for the U.S. and the rest of the world is to stay out of the fight and just send supplies. Any other interaction would cause Putin to feel he has defend Russia at all costs. At this point, President Biden and NATO leaders have said they have no plans to send American troops.

For more insight from Professor Marina Zaloznaya, read more of her interview HERE.

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