SAN DIEGO – Local Ukrainian citizens are checking in with their loved ones overseas as tensions rise with many thousands of Russian troops reportedly mobilized near the border of Ukraine.

“I thought this was a bluff, Putin was bluffing,” said Mira Rubin, president of the House of Ukraine. “All of us (were) hoping this is just a bluff, but it’s getting real.”

On Wednesday, the Biden administration and its NATO allies told Russia there would be no concessions on Moscow’s primary demands to resolve the crisis, the Associated Press reported. Moscow has demanded guarantees that NATO will never admit Ukraine and other ex-Soviet nations as members and that the alliance will roll back troop deployments in former Soviet bloc nations.

Some of these, like the membership pledge, are nonstarters for the U.S. and its allies, creating a seemingly intractable stalemate that many fear can only end in a war.

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied it has plans to attack Ukraine, but the U.S. and NATO are worried about Russia massing its troops near Ukraine and conducting a series of sweeping military maneuvers.

But as the situation worsens, the U.S. on Wednesday urged Americans in Ukraine to consider leaving, saying the security situation “continues to be unpredictable due to the increased threat of Russian military action and can deteriorate with little notice.”

Rubin, a Bay Park mother and Ukrainian-American citizen, has been in contact with her cousins and childhood friends back in her home country.

“People are worried, but at the same time, people are sick of this,” she said. “We have been at war with Russia for eight years. It hasn’t been an active conflict due to all this cease-fire. Ukraine wants to continue being independent and a sovereign country and have nothing to do with Russia and just be friendly neighbors, but that’s not the fact because 100,000 troops are near the Ukrainian border.”

Rubin added, “It’s not looking good.”

At St. John the Baptizer Ukrainian Catholic Church, they’re praying for peace. Pastor Yurii Sas said his family is laying low and hoping for Russia to back off.

“We are trying to keep silent,” Sas said. “We are praying for peace and even for our enemies. May God change their minds.”

Both Ukrainian nationals said information is limited and confusing.

“The Ukrainian government is officially saying this is going to be fine, nothing is going to happen,” Rubin said. “The president is trying to keep things calm. The media obviously is not. What we see happening in Russia is also counterproductive.”

American troops are on high alert and ready to deploy to Eastern Europe if tensions worsen.

“If this is going to be an active war zone, that’s going to change everything, so I really hope that’s not going to be the case,” Rubin said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.