BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – Dr. George Liber, a history of professor at UAB, who has written three books on Ukraine and studied the culture and history of the country extensively, is weighing in on what we are seeing unfold overseas.

Liber said 130,000 Russian troops are ready to invade the country if that is what Russian President Vladimir Putin decides to do – and here at home, that could impact costs at the grocery store – as Ukraine is the fourth largest grain producer in the world.

Since November 2021, Liber said Putin has claimed he will not invade the country, even though he has provided every provision to do so. Liber said the decision to join NATO is made by people in any given country – but Ukraine has not met all of the criteria to join NATO – and it could be several years before it is eligible to do so.

“What Mr. Putin is doing at this point in time is trying to preempt all of these years down the road by raising a big stink now,” Liber said.

Rabbi David Schneier, an Attorney who lived in Ukraine for 12 years and visits several times a year – said he is still very well connected with rabbis in Ukraine and Crimea who have their bags packed with important documents, money and essentials – they’re just waiting to see if an evacuation is still yet necessary right now.

“They have some options but it’s not like they are easy options,” Schneier said. “It’s not like you get on a plane and fly to the United States.”

Schneier said Jewish families can go to Israel or with relatives in other countries if the time comes that they do need to evacuate.