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‘You Have To Leave Now’: Refugee From Ukraine Recounts Her Escape From War With Russia

CBS Chicago 3/7/2022 Syndicated Local – CBS Chicago

CHICAGO (CBS) — Thousands of people converged on Chicago’s Loop for a second weekend in a row in a massive show of support for Ukraine as the war with Russia continues.

A massive Ukrainian flag covered Daley Plaza Sunday afternoon as demonstrators called on NATO to close the sky over Ukraine.

In that crowd, CBS 2’s Sabrina Franza met one brave student, a refugee from Ukraine, who just arrived in Chicago Saturday night.

“I don’t know when I can see my father, my friends, my boyfriend. I don’t know, can I see” 20-year-old Sofia Kolesnyk said.

Her family is from Kyiv. Her mother, father, younger siblings and boyfriend are still in the country in hiding.
She was studying at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv when she said a call from her father woke her up in the middle of the night to tell her that war had begun and that she needed to flee immediately.

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“My father told me, ‘Sofia, war started. You have to leave now to Warsaw,'” she said.
She said when she saw her phone light up, she knew.
“I remember I saw the photo of my father, from his picture when he called me, and I understand that I can’t pick up my phone because I understand what we need to do now,” she siad.
She took a days long journey in a car full of friends, children and a pregnant woman to get to Poland before getting on a plane to head to the United States.
“Forty-five hours in a car,” she said.
“I don’t sleep all night,” she said. “I can’t eat because I’m nervous about the situation, but I need to stay in a positive mood for every family.”
Sofia said her family has left her childhood home in Kyiv. Her father is focused on getting out her mother, grandmother, aunt and younger siblings in waves. He cannot leave the country.
“I try to not think about it. I try to think that I can see my parents, see my friends for one week, maybe, two weeks, more quicker. Because if I think that I can’t see them… I don’t know. I can’t think about it,” she said.
She said her life has been changed forever. She is staying with family friends in Chicago.
Her bravery was on display as she stood arm to arm with protesters calling for NATO allies to help her country.

Ukraine’s president has pleaded for a no-fly zone over his country and lashed out at NATO for refusing to impose one, warning that “all the people who die from this day forward will also die because of you.”

But Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Saturday that his country would consider any third-party declaration of a no-fly zone over Ukraine as participation in the war there.

NATO has said a no-fly zone, which would bar all unauthorized aircraft from flying over Ukraine, could provoke widespread war in Europe.

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