NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Here in New Haven County, there’s a man with strong ties to Russia and Ukraine — even President Putin. He has an interesting perspective on what’s happening in his homeland.
As Russia invades Ukraine, it’s hard for Herman Obuhov to watch.
“I’m a little bit afraid because I have a lot of friends now in Kyiv and in Ukraine,” Obuhov said. “So it’s kind of my, almost like second native I mean, country and city.”
While he’s now living in Connecticut, Obuhov was born in the Soviet Union. In the early ’80s, the KGB arrested him over a book. He spent four years in a camp and two years in exile as a political prisoner. Eventually, he became a U.S. citizen, but frequently traveled between the countries.
Then, in 1994, Vladimir Putin, who was Deputy Mayor of St. Petersburg, asked to meet with him.
“He was really polite, very, I mean kind of I can say diplomatic and very enthusiastic,” Obuhov said of Putin. “He’s just a regular official in kind of high level office so it looked like he’s concerned about people, I mean economy, politics.”
Over the years, he watched as Putin became the man he is today. Obuhov said the turning point was in 2014 when Russia captured Crimea. He described Putin as not a politician, but a “criminal and criminal of war.”
“Now, the whole situation in world, and between U.S. and Russia relationship and everything, it’s start to drift and move to World War III,” Obuhov said.
Obuhov said people in Ukraine are strong and won’t accept a government run by Russia.
“Every day, I talk to every day a few times to my friends in Kyiv, so they said, well, we want to fight,” Obuhov said. “There’s no way to I mean just give up.”
To help, Obuhov said the U.S. needs to hit Russia with greater sanctions than those already taken.
“Until this situation, until Putin, and his I mean, whole body in power, no any kind of business or economic communication with Russia,” Obuhov said.
He fears Putin’s next move.
“If it’s not stopped now, he can go I mean to Poland, or I don’t know where,” Obuhov said. “He start crazy I mean totally, he’s out mind and he, I don’t know how he controls or who controls him.”