Russia-Ukraine Crisis

Ukrainian Consulate in San Francisco Works to Help Potential Refugees

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As the battle rages in Ukraine, work continues uninterrupted at the Ukrainian Consulate in San Francisco, including efforts to help potential refugees and those looking for a way to get to the front lines. 

The consulate’s website is currently down as Ukrainian diplomatic websites were taken down by the government a couple of weeks ago to prevent Russian hackers from using them to spead disinformation.

But their work hasn’t stopped.

"We're open for business fully. Even, we expanded our hours of work,” said Dmytro Kushneruk, Ukrainian Consul General in San Francisco.     

Raj Mathai speaks with Ukrainian Consul General Dmytro Kushneruk on the ongoing Russian Invasion of Ukraine.

Kushneruk said that most Ukrainians use social media pages like Facebook anyway.

And if those pages get hacked, their contacts at the social media platforms are quick to respond.

He said the last few days have been a flurry of meetings and phone calls, including Friday morning's Zoom meeting with consuls general from other European Union countries like France.

The Ukrainian government is asking allied governments for three things, cut Russia out of the swift, international banking system, send more military equipment, like air defense systems, and humanitarian aid.

At the San Francisco consulate, they're also getting calls about where private citizens can send aid.

And as soon as images of Russian troops invading Ukraine began hitting the airwaves, they also started getting other kinds of calls.

“Saying they want to go to Ukraine and help physically, I mean help by fighting,” said Kushneruk. “And those are very rarely Ukrainians, those are American people.”

In the last couple days, NATO has reiterated that it has no plan to send allied troops into Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has taken to social media calling on anyone with combat experience to join the fight.  

That's something the consulate is now taking seriously.

“We would like to get military support from the NATO, like by regular troops. But if that's not working, let's start by individuals at least,” said Kushneruk.

Kushneruk said they've been getting about 10 calls a day, from people offering to join the fight.

He said they're open to those offers, the biggest challenge is getting into Ukraine.

San Francisco City Hall lit up to support Ukraine Friday evening.
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