Houston-area man, living in Ukraine, describes standoff with Russia

The United Nations Security Council has met to consider Russia's buildup of troops and weapons along Ukraine's border and concerns of an impending invasion. Inside Ukraine, however, a former Katy man says there may not be the same level of worry inside the Eastern European country.

Like many, David Manaker came to Texas to work in the oil and gas industry. Now, the geologist lives and works in Ukraine, with a front-row seat to all that is happening there. 

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"Right now, you wouldn't know any different from one year ago," he says.

Manaker moved to Ukraine's capital city, Kyiv, last summer. Images he's shared on Facebook show a picturesque city; dining out with friends; festive decorations during the holidays. He says people are well aware of Russia's build-up on the border but are largely unworried about the potential for trouble. 

"There's a sense that this is not much different than what we've seen before, and even with all the political grandstanding, there's probably not going to be any kind of war," says Manaker.

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Ukraine declared its independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991 and has long struggled on that path. Since 2014, a pro-Russian government was toppled in deadly clashes with demonstrators, Russia has annexed the Crimean Peninsula and aided a violent separatist movement in Eastern Ukraine. 

As Russia now tries to prevent Ukraine from getting closer to the west, Manaker believes many of the country's people are already there. 

"I think that has solidified the Ukrainian population on its independence, and its desire to distance itself from the current regime in Moscow," he says.

While the world watches to see how that standoff plays out, Manaker says he plans to stay right where he is. 

"I'm not too concerned, here in Kyiv, and although my embassy has told me I should evacuate, I'm going to stay here and work here until I determine it's dangerous to myself."

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Despite the seeming disconnect between observations in Ukraine, and western headlines, the reality may be somewhere in the middle. Manaker says the demeanor of a lot of Eastern European people is 'fatalistic', believing that whatever happens is going to happen and there's not much they can do about it. Whether the Russians walk away, or fight for something that doesn't belong to them, Ukraine is likely to respond accordingly.