Detroit woman describes horrors of being trapped in Ukraine: ‘We never guessed this would happen’

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A Ukrainian-born American citizen trapped in Kharkiv shared her harrowing experience Wednesday as Russian forces advance in their campaign to take control of Ukraine.

Valentina Barsukova spoke to Ainsley Earhardt on “Fox & Friends” to share her experiences after flying from Detroit to Ukraine to take part in her mother’s 85th birthday celebration last week. She said many Ukrainians did not expect a full-scale invasion by Vladimir Putin, as Kharkiv faces daily barrages including on civilian areas.

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“All of us could never guess what was going to happen,” Barsukova said. “I knew there were problems going on, but what happened, it’s insane.”

With no way out, Barsukova and her husband have been left to face long lines at grocery stores, with banks and other businesses closed.

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“We ran to the store like twice and it’s long lines outside. Everything is closed. I mean, only food stores are open. Banks are closed, you cannot use credit cards, so you have cash – like Ukrainian cash,” she said.

Local people form a long line to withdraw a cash money from a bank's ATM in Lviv, in western Ukraine, on Feb. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a special military operation in Donbas and  multi-pronged attack on several Ukrainian cities has begun.  ( The Yomiuri Shimbun )

Local people form a long line to withdraw a cash money from a bank’s ATM in Lviv, in western Ukraine, on Feb. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a special military operation in Donbas and  multi-pronged attack on several Ukrainian cities has begun.  ( The Yomiuri Shimbun )

In addition to food stores, Barsukova mentioned Ukrainians are forming long lines outside of pharmacies, waiting outside in the cold for medicines.

Barsukova also said the stores are mostly empty and that food, gas and oil shortages plague the country. 

A woman pushes a baby stroller after crossing the border from Ukraine at the Romanian-Ukrainian border, in Siret, Romania, Friday, Feb. 25, 2022. 

A woman pushes a baby stroller after crossing the border from Ukraine at the Romanian-Ukrainian border, in Siret, Romania, Friday, Feb. 25, 2022. 
( AP Photo/Alexandru Dobre)

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Earhardt asked Barsukova if she could drive to the U.S. embassy in Poland if she made the decision to do so, but Barsukova said escaping is not that easy.

“It’s just not safe to drive,” she said. “If you call a taxi today, no one wants to go.  Because trains still come in –  still some trains with refugees – but there’s no schedule, no tickets, and it’s just not safe to move around the town because yesterday you had a very bad day. It was explosions all over, so it’s just not safe.”

“You can hear bombing all day long, all night, airplanes… It’s hard.”

Barsukova said she plans to go to the train station with her husband on Friday, but there are no guarantees that both will be able to get onboard.

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“They let only women with kids go, and they’re pushing men away,” she said, adding that a 15-mile line awaits them at the Ukrainian-Polish border even if they successfully escape the city.

Barsukova says her husband may still be pushed away from the train station even if he can prove his American citizenship. 

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