ANCHORAGE -

With her grandparents still living in the Ukraine, close to violent pro-Russia clashes with the new government and the occupation of Russian soldiers, University of Alaska Anchorage chemistry instructor Olena Murdoch has spent the past few days worrying. 

"I talk to them every day now, seeing how they are doing," Murdoch said. "I'm praying, I'm calling, I'm watching the news same as everybody."

Murdoch says her family tells her that there is a lot of unrest. She says there have been sightings of unidentified military troops -- not just in the Crimean Peninsula, where Russian military forces arrived last week, but also in other towns like Kherson where her grandparents live. 

"They just refuse to identify who they are and they have no markings on their uniforms," Murdoch said.

Although Murdoch left Ukraine for Alaska when she was 20, she still remembers when the Russians threatened her country's independence in the 1990s. Much of the nation is dependent on Russian natural gas for heat, especially in the winter months.

"Ukraine doesn't do something that Russia likes, they just shut off the gas and then two days later they just turn it back on," Murdoch said.

The scale of those threats is much stronger Murdoch says, with Russia's troops back in Ukraine, a former Soviet republic.

"How are they going to defend themselves?" Murdoch said. "They have no guns, nothing, so there is absolutely nothing they can do."

Murdoch prays that her fears of Russia controlling Ukraine's food, money and way of life won't become a reality. 

"I'm hoping that they won't come to war, and so hopefully they will just occupy for awhile and leave, but I don't think so," Murdoch said. "So we will just take it day by day and see what happens."

Channel 2 reached out to several Russian groups here in town. One woman who is from Russia who didn't want to be identified expressed her concern and said she is praying for the safety of everyone involved.