Olga Shevtsova has more riding on the Ukraine situation
than most Dunedin residents.
The University of Otago graduand is a native of Kiev, the
capital city where her mother and brothers live.
Mrs Shevtsova said she was worried about a Russian incursion
into Ukraine from Crimea, where Russian military forces were
based after an armed intervention.
''It's not good what Russia is doing; it will be another war.
It's similar to what we had with Georgia in 2008, and I
wouldn't want to see that happen,'' she said.
Mrs Shevtsova spoke frequently with her family in Kiev and
for the time being they were safe.
''The situation in Kiev is pretty stabilised. I hope they
stay safe there.''
She grew up in Kiev when Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union
and there was not as much division between Ukrainians and
If the Russian army ventured into western Ukraine, things
would become ''unpredictable'' and dangerous, Mrs Shevstova
She had moved from Ukraine to New Zealand in 2001, in the
footsteps of her sister.
New Zealand's beauty and tranquillity appealed to the Eastern
Europeans, she said.
They first lived in Auckland and, after five years, Mrs
Shevstova moved to Dunedin.
She has just finished her PhD in neuroscience, and last
visited Ukraine in 2011.
Former Otago journalist Jared Morgan has made Kiev his home
and said there was divided opinion in the capital about
Russia's possible invasion.
''It's very mixed. There are people who are declaring the
worst and others saying it's not so bad.''
Mr Morgan said many people in Kiev were still mourning those
killed in the recent political upheaval.
Most ethnic Russians lived in eastern Ukraine, including the
Crimea, and Mr Morgan said it was likely Russian control
would be limited to that part of the country.
''Russia wants to protect its interests there. Yes, it might
get ugly, but my personal view is it won't spread to the rest
of the country,'' he said.
University of Otago politics lecturer Dr James Headley said
he had found the speed with which Russian President Vladimir
Putin sought parliamentary permission to invade Ukraine
He, too, said the gravity of the situation depended on
whether Russia limited its incursion to the Crimea.
An attempt at widespread control would evoke condemnation and
sanctions from Western powers, Dr Headley said.
''It's the closest the country has been to major conflict in
a long time. Putin doesn't want to be seen to be weak or back
down, but Russia stands to lose a lot.''
A specialist in Russian foreign policy and the European
Union, Dr Headley said an all-out war was unlikely, but
sanctions would be potentially crippling for Russia and would
have indirect impact on trade and economics throughout the
West, including New Zealand.
''It would be like the Cold War again where we see that level
of hostility between Russia and the West.''