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Kutztown University professor reacts to Zelenskyy's address to Congress

A Ukrainian-American college professor from the coal region was among the millions who watched Wednesday's address intently.

SUGARLOAF, Pa. — Family and friends of Kutztown University Professor Dr. Paula Holoviak were in Ukraine when Russia invaded.

Some have since fled, but she's still heartbroken to see the country being destroyed.

We met Holoviak at her home in Sugarloaf Wednesday, hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed federal lawmakers.

"He really just talked about closing the skies. I think there is an understanding that it would be very risky for NATO and the United States to directly engage in a no-fly zone, but closing the skies is a different matter," she said. "I think that's what President Biden, in his remarks, alluded to without getting into the specifics."

Even as President Biden pledged hundreds of millions in additional support, Holoviak's personal connection to Ukraine leaves her wanting more done, but she knows the United States must avoid a larger war.

"We're sending quite a bit of financial aid and quite a bit of ammunitions right now, so without becoming directly involved in a conflict with Russia, I think we're doing the most we can at this point," she said.

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Holoviak believes military defense weaponry from the United States would be of little use to Ukrainians; the soldiers are unfamiliar with western equipment.

"They were trained on the old Soviet-style or Russian-style military weapons. So, for us to send them a U.S. system, we can't send the people over to do the training; there's not enough time," said the professor. "As they've been talking, perhaps some of the eastern European countries can send their anti-missile systems."

Holoviak hopes world leaders listen to Zelensky's request and double down on sanctions against Russia as Ukrainian forces apply more pressure.

"Ukrainians are taking a terrible civilian toll, but the Ukrainian military is doing really an excellent job of pinning the Russians down," she said. "So, if it's a stalemate, there may be some way to negotiate."

Holoviak said Putin's greatest fear is that the people of Russia will rise up against him, but for that to happen, more Russians have to hear the truth about what's going on in Ukraine.

See more videos on our area’s connection to the Crisis in Ukraine.  

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