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Mercer professor, daughter prepare to evacuate from Ukraine as tension builds

They plan to relocate to Warsaw, Poland by Thursday

MACON, Ga. — Tensions are mounting in eastern Europe as the world waits to see what happens between Russia and Ukraine. 

Meanwhile, a Mercer University professor along with his 12-year-old daughter are preparing to evacuate from Ukraine. 

Political Science Professor Chris Grant spoke to 13WMAZ from Kyiv about what it looks like on the ground and their plan to relocate.

Chris Grant is likely a familiar name to many in Central Georgia. In fact, you've probably seen him on 13WMAZ. He's one of our go-to experts for things relating to elections, the Georgia General Assembly, and state laws.

For the past three weeks, Grant has been in Ukraine doing research as a Fulbright Fellow.

Since touching down in Ukraine on January 2, Grant has documented his time in the country through vlogs-- taking his followers through Kyiv for a trip they expected to last into August.

But just three weeks after unpacking their bags, he and his daughter Olivia are packing back up. 

"Nobody wants to be in the middle of a hot war, especially with my 12-year-old daughter," Grant said. 

The U.S. State Department advises American civilians to leave the country this week. Grant says he feels safe, but, "If they tell us to go, we go," Grant told 13WMAZ.

The evacuations are in response to roughly 100,000 Russian troops gathering near Ukraine's border in recent weeks. Grant says that's not far -- about an hour-and-a-half away -- from where he's been staying. 

"My sense of it, something is going to happen," Grant said. "I don't think you build up 100,000 troops at a border and nothing comes of it."

Grant says on the streets of Kyiv, things seems to operating like usual, but he says you can feel the tension in the air. 

"We wound up just coming across a group of people, children, adults, old people... holding up Ukrainian, yellow-and-blue flags, and they were holding it up as a long drape. They're holding it up in a pretty prominent square in the city. That was pretty spontaneous. We were in a metro station, and we heard people seeing Ukrainian songs of freedom," Grant said. 

Grant says he's also heard of paramilitary groups preparing for a possible Russian incursion and getting ready to potentially defend their homes. 

The Mercer professor says living through this reminds him of how grateful he is to be an American citizen. 

"We don't worry about our currency collapsing. We don't worry about an outside power invading our country. We don't worry about these things on a day-to-day basis. My Ukrainian, Georgian, and Moldavian friends worry about this from the time they are young kids," Grant said. 

Grant says the State Department and Embassy constantly keeps him and other Americans in the country updated.

He said Tuesday evening that he and his daughter plan to evacuate to Warsaw, Poland by Thursday. 

They expect to be in Central Georgia by the middle of next week. 

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