3 Ukrainians in Chicago share stories as families lives hang in balance after Russian invasion

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Three women in Chicago shared how their personal lives have been rocked by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, leaving their families' lives hanging in the balance.

"It was bombed this morning. My mom woke up from the explosion sounds," said Violetta Radchenko. "The building was shaking. They attacked airports."

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Radchenko has lived in Chicago for three years now, but she's originally from the Kyiv region. Her mother, father and brother still live there. When we spoke to her, she was on the phone with her mother and brother in the capital city.

"I was trying to calm her down, but it's very hard for us to be here and not hugging my family and just be there," she said. "It's quiet right now but we expect another attack tonight. So technically in a few hours."

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She said her brother, a 36-year-old furniture maker, is now taking up arms to fight for his country.

"They're gonna get guns. You just have to bring your passport and they will equip you. So guys, they're going to be there in the front, and ladies they're going to try to move west of Ukraine," Radchenko said.

Yulia Pona has lived in Chicago for five years. She is scared.

"I called my mom. It was 5 a.m. in Ukraine. I said mom, you have to wake up now because the war began, the war has started in Ukraine. It's terrible," she said. "My family is there, my parents are there, and I'm just... I'm stressing out, you know? For them, for my country, for our people, for Ukrainians."

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And Irina Romchenko fears for her 22-year-old son, who is still in Kyiv.

"This is horrible time for me because any minute I could lose my kid. Any minute," she said. "We need help. We need help. My people, the Ukrainian people, need help. Help from America. Help from Europa."

"Ukrainians, Ukrainian people, we don't want this war. We would never, ever start this war," Pona said.

The women said their families are being told to take women and children west, closer to Poland, where it's safer, while men of fighting age are being asked to take up arms if they can.
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