Staten Island, NY – Vladimir Kiner left his hometown Odessa, Ukraine in 1989 when it was still a part of the Soviet Union, with his wife and a couple of suitcases. He started out as a shoe cobbler in Brooklyn and in 1997 moved to Staten Island where he’s known as the “cobbler” to West Brighton residents. Kiner shares his thoughts on the current war between Russia and Ukraine.
“Back then you were not allowed to take a lot; you took a few suitcases and that was it,” Kiner told SILive.com. “I wasn’t a rebel; I just wanted to provide a good life for my family. And it was almost impossible when [Ukraine] was part of the Soviet Union.”
Currently, the war happening between Russia and Ukraine is being described as a potential world war. For months Putin said he would not attack the neighboring country but in a swift change of events he decided to scrap that and attack anyway. Putin is being accused of disrupting the peace in Europe, with a number of civilian casualties due to Russian missiles in Ukraine.
Though starting a new life in America along with the recent pandemic and almost losing his shop was definitely difficult, Kiner expresses it is easier than living in the Ukraine at the moment. He feels for his native country and the people living there. “It is very sad,” said Kiner of the invasion to SILive.com. “I was saying to my wife up until the last day before the invasion, I was sure it [would] never happen. I said to my wife, ‘It’s just game; they [Russians] are just flexing their muscles because you’d have to be crazy to do this.”
Kiner has lived in the United States for over 30 years and no longer has family living in the Ukraine, but this war feels like an attack on his home.
“When I woke up and turned on the TV to see the Russian invasion in Ukraine, it was really shocking,” said Kiner. “War is always bad, no matter what country it is in. I feel bad for people who live over there, especially when you turn on the news and see the women and children who need help”, said Kiner to SILive.com.
While the United States is not going to be sending in troops to fight with Ukraine, the country is joining in the coalition with NATO to assist Ukraine and its troops. So far the US has cut off Russian banks from the international payment network and is imposing personal sanctions on President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.