‘There’s no words for it’: Ukrainian man in Salem fears for loved ones back home amid Russia invasion

Published: Feb. 24, 2022 at 5:52 PM PST
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) -- Ukrainians in our area are worried about their loved ones back home as Russia invades.

“I talked to my dad and I’m like, ‘Should you leave?’ And he said, ‘You can’t run from a rocket,’” Alex, who only wants to go by his first name, said.

He shared from Salem what he’s hearing from his dad and brother in the Kherson area of Ukraine.

His dad took video in the pitch black of night catching the light of Russian forces moving in on the bridge near their house.

“He said you can hear the fighting in the distance and then the fighting stopped and he saw the convoys coming in, so it’s sad. It’s a horrible feeling, horrible to listen to the explosions as you’re talking to your loved ones and then hoping that they answer their phone when you call,” Alex said.

Now, they’re hearing rumors of tragedy nearby.

“He had a phone call that his neighbor a few hundred meters away, they’re not a hundred percent sure what hit his house, but he was killed by an explosion, so it’s sad. There’s no words for it,” he said.

It’s not just Ukrainians watching in horror. Natalia Sluzky is from Russia and lives in Portland now.

She moved to the U.S. as a kid and just visited Ukraine last fall.

“The entire time I was there it was a sense of déjà vu and a sense of almost home, because in so many ways it is so similar to Russia,” she said.

When asked what she makes of Russia invading Ukraine overnight, she said she’s embarrassed.

“That’s the only thing I keep expressing to my Ukrainian friends ... I’m sorry,” she said.

Sluzky said her friends in Russia are just as shocked, and this is not what anyone wants.

“So many of them woke up to the same news that we went to bed with and just not understanding why this is happening, what there is to gain from this,” Sluzky said.

As video shows Ukrainians on the move or gathering in subway stations as bomb shelters, Alex said his family invited friends to stay at their place because they have a basement they can use to take cover.

“I think this is a time in our history where we’re going to look back and wonder where did we go wrong as a world, essentially,” he said.