KYIV, Ukraine — Those in Kyiv who didn’t wake to explosions Friday morning were roused by another day of air raid sirens.
"I'm shocked and really saddened," said Mary Curtin. She's a Diplomat-in-Residence with the University of Minnesota's Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
Curtin was a longtime foreign affairs officer who spent years serving the region around Ukraine, a nation that gained independence in 1991 when the Soviet Union dissolved - a move Russian President Vladimir Putin has publicly opposed.
His decision to invade Russia has a lot of people asking, why?
"Was it simply that he wasn't going to put up with this any longer, is he trying to shore up his own support at home, is this the thing he wants to accomplish as he gets older, and I think that is the question," said Curtin. "I think power and his vision of what Russian is and should be and that, unfortunately, includes the idea that Russia should dominate these neighboring Republics."
In response to the attack, President Joe Biden imposed financial sanctions on Russia. But will they work?
"I think eventually they may dissuade him, but sanctions have not yet touched the oil and gas sector and that is critical," said Curtin.
Russian forces also seized control of Chernobyl, which is located on a major thoroughfare that leads south to Ukraine's capitol city of Kyiv.
That's where Curtin says Putin plans to remove the currently elected government officials. Some people are asking why the United States has not deployed troops in response.
"I think there are several reasons and one, I think, there is very serious concern over this war escalating into an all out war in Europe that potentially could involve nuclear weapons," said Curtin, who says Ukraine's military is fairly strong.
But also that the damage is already done.
"It will be difficult and horrific for the Ukrainian people and could drag on for a long time," said Curtin. "It's hard to envision a negotiated end to this that leaves the current Ukrainian government in power."
The U.N. human rights office said it was receiving increasing reports of civilian casualties, with at least 25 deaths verified, mostly from shelling and airstrikes. “The figures, we fear, could be much higher,” agency spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said.