DENVER — Michael Wynar is relieved to know his family is safe. He personally retrieved them from Ukraine last week as they fled the war torn country.
He walked 100 feet over the border to the place that so many of his loved ones call home — a home now decimated by Russian aggression.
"That was really unreal going into war zone," said Michael Wynar, a Coloradan who has numerous Ukrainian family members. "As soon as we got them across that NATO border, we felt so much better."
Wynar helped five of his family members across the border to Slovakia where they still reside as refugees. His brother-in-law, however, is still in Ukraine, unable to leave along with any Ukrainian male aged 18 to 65.
"He wants to help and he is a full-bodied man, he's strong. And I know if he had the fight, he would fight, too," Wynar said about his brother-in-law. "He's doing everything he can. We're proud of him."
With a first-hand view of the crisis unfolding in Ukraine, Weinar says Western countries need to do more to help Ukraine where soldiers continue to fight, but supplies are running short.
"I think America has to do more because they see tens of thousands of people getting murdered," Wynar said. "Russia has amazing capabilities that Ukraine can't fight."
Last week, on top of strict banking and commerce sanctions, the United States began a blockade of oil imports to the country. American corporations like Starbucks and MacDonald's also closed their stores.
Still, Wynar says that is not enough to stop the aggression.
"NATO forcibly closing the skies would be the best option. But if not, then giving Ukraine the planes they need. And if not that, at least some sort of systems of air defense," Wynar said. "Sanctions are great, but they're not enough."
For now, Wynar and his family are counting their blessings as the violence continues.
"I just want them to stay safe and stay on the NATO side until Ukraine can guarantee their safety in Lviv," Wynar said about his family now safe in Slovakia. "It's a huge relief."