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"They Are In Danger And I Can Do Nothing...": Local Ukrainian College Student Terrified For Family Amid Russian Invasion

GLENDALE (CBSLA) - As the fighting continues in Ukraine, a local Ukrainian college student is struggling with the separation from her father and two younger sisters, who she worries may not make it out of the war alive.

Ukrainian Student 2
Oleksandra Zhukova, 22, was born and raised in Ukraine and is now living in Glendale where she attends college. (CBSLA)

Oleksandra Zhukova, a 22-year-old college student living in Glendale, came to the Los Angeles area in 2017 to get a fashion degree. She was born and raised in Ukraine, just outside of Kyiv.

"And I was glad to be raised there, with amazing family," Zhukova said.

Now, she's worried about Alice, her 5-year-old little sister, who like other girls her age loves to play dress up as Elsa from "Frozen." Her family has been distracting her with toys and games, so she doesn't realize what's happening right outside her front door.

"It's just heartbreaking because she's my little sister," said Zhukova. "I am the oldest one, and I am safe and she is not and I want them to be safe. I want them all to be safe."

She shared video of her family celebrating the holidays last year, though now it's hard to think that those same smiling faces are now fearing for their lives.

"I feel guilty for being safe because they are in danger, and I can do nothing," Zhukova told CBSLA.

Ukrainian Student 1
Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Her mother is in LA too. She'd come to visit Zhukova for her birthday two weeks ago, and now she's unable to get home.

Zhukova's mother was too distraught to talk and hasn't been able to sleep in two days.

"She is trying to solve the problem she cannot solve," the 22-year-old said.

Her father and two sisters, Alice and 15-year-old Verum remain sheltered inside their home. The bombings have gotten closer to their district.

"My sister called and said, 'Mom, there are bombs outside. I am scared,'" Zhukova said.

Unfortunately, leaving isn't an option for her family. There is an eight hour wait at the border and being on the roads could lead to even worse danger. Zhukova's father is also prohibited from fleeing because he may be called to fight.

"About an hour before you came, I found that one of my brother's friends was called. He is 18 or 19," the college student said.

Despite invading her country, Zhukova said she doesn't hate Russia.

"I don't want them to fight. I want the peace. I want them to stay alive. Both Ukrainian troops and Russian troops, I want them to stay alive."

Zhukova said the best thing Americans can do is share the stories of the Ukrainian people. She said she has friends in Russia who have been cut off from the news, and don't realize what's going on.


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