From bomb shelter to bunkers: One couple’s monthlong escape from Ukraine to the US
In early February when Russian tanks started surrounding Ukraine, Lane Olsen didn’t cancel his plans to travel overseas to see his longtime girlfriend Kateryna Yurchenko.
The pair met in 2020 when he was visiting Ukraine and they haven’t spent much time apart since. He loves eastern Europe and the pair plans to marry soon. They didn’t plan on doing that in the United States. But last month, Russia changed everything for Kateryna and her family. Olsen says the bombing started in Kyiv on Feb. 23, and they knew they needed to get out of Ukraine.
Kateryna still can’t believe it. The pair spent five days in a bomb shelter in Kyiv before starting their trek out of Ukraine. By that point, it was chaos. They say gas stations had no gas, and millions of people were trying to flee while bombs were going off.
“We had 15 minutes to run to our apartment, grab whatever we could and throw in the bags, and then the bomb alarms, sirens started to go off,” says Olsen.
Once they were out of harm’s way, they needed to get visas for Kateryna and her 5-year-old daughter, Olivia. That turned out to be a big challenge as most surrounding countries had monthslong or yearslong wait times for interviews.
“We went from Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Croatia to Slovenia,” where they finally got to interview to come to the United States. Their monthlong journey included bunkers with no electricity, showers or bathrooms and, at times, very little food. But the couple is thankful for those willing to help along the way.
“We’re just grateful, we had so many friends worried,” Olsen says as his eyes well up with tears.
Kateryna says she was born in Crimea and evacuated when Russia invaded. Now eight years later, she finds herself doing the same thing all over again. She says Putin must be stopped.
“He just kill everyone, civilian, women, kids, it’s terrible.”
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