Ukraine Russia Crisis

‘It's Scary to Flee': La Jolla Woman Fears for Family in Ukraine

Oksana Grebenyk has several family members sheltering in place throughout Ukraine

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Ukrainian families in the U.S. with relatives overseas continue to watch the daily devastation in anguish.

Oksana Grebenyk, who lives in La Jolla, shared that her mother and sister are currently sheltering in place in Ukraine. She says she watches the news daily looking for the faces of her family.

“I feel guilty just waking up in the morning and being safe,” said Grebenyk.

Grebenyk explains she moved to California in 2010. Although she has begged her family to relocate for safety, she says they’ll likely stay in Ukraine. 

“It would be very hard for them to move. And my mom doesn’t want to move she’s very proud…she’d rather die there than come here,” she said. 

Grebenyk named her four-month-old daughter, Mila, after her mother. 

While her mother and sister’s towns haven’t been targeted yet, Grebenyk says they’re afraid to move because Russian forces have been bombing non-military targets such as hospitals, residential areas and civilian corridors. 

“So even when my sister was in Kyiv, she told me Oksana it’s scary to stay, it’s scary to flee. Because when you have to drive you have to drive through the frontline of the war,” she said. 

Oksana says she’s relieved each morning she hears from her sister and mother. Although she worries for the safety of other relatives she has lost contact with over the last few weeks.

“We don’t want to think that the Ukrainian army will surrender,” she said. 

And despite the enduring war, she says the Ukrainian spirit is resilient.

“They’re not part of Russia and never will be. They have their own language, their own history, their own culture…and they will be fighting for it.”

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