Russia-Ukraine Crisis

Ukrainian Refugees Fly Into SFO, Reunite With Loved Ones

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People escaping the violence of Russia's invasion of Ukraine continue to arrive in the Bay Area.

At least two families met loved ones flying into the San Francisco International Airport Friday afternoon. 

They've traveled there by car, train, plane and even by foot. And even though they know they’re safe in the Bay Area they did not want to leave their home's in Ukraine.

Bohdana Korchak joyfully greeted her mother Vira.

A little more than a week ago - before the invasion - she was comfortably at home near Odessa, Ukraine.

“American intelligence, they were talking about a possible invasion,” said Korchak. “But none of us believed in it. Neither my mom.”

But after days of seeking shelter in her basement, because of shelling by Russian troops, Vera made the long journey here. She had just been in the Bay Area for Christmas.

“We let her go,” said Korchak. “And we would never be able to forgive ourselves if we were not lucky to get her out now.”

But the joy of seeing her mother is bittersweet. Because she has family, like her cousin Artem, who has stayed behind to fight.

That bittersweet feeling is familiar for Evgheni Vinnicov.

“Yes, we are happy that they are here, but of course we are scared for other people who stayed there, I have relatives who are there,” said Vinnicov.

NBC Bay Area’s Raj Mathai spoke to Bay Area Congressman John Garamendi who will be on a call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the midst of a war.

His cousin's family also escaped destruction in Odessa.

In a tweet by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, he once again pushed NATO to create a no-fly zone to prevent Russian jets from destroying more of the country.

But even as his loved ones continue to fight in Ukraine, Vinnicov knows a NATO no-fly zone is a big deal.

“Nobody wants World War III right,” said Vinnicov. “Because if Western Countries intervene, that could be very serious.”

Bay Area Congressman John Giramendi will be among a group of lawmakers speaking with President Zelenskyy in a Zoom conference Saturday morning.

He said the U.S. can’t trust Putin's new promise that he will go no further than Ukraine.

“He is simply a liar, and we cannot trust him, so we have to deter him. We have to stop him,” said Giramendi.

The congressman said the U.S. can’t give air support without risking getting dragged into the war but will offer military equipment and aid.

Some refugees question whether there’s any chance of ever reasoning with the Russian leader.

“I want to say Putin is a crazy maniac,” said Ukrainian refugee Vera Havryluk.

It's not yet clear how many people from the Ukraine have arrived in the Bay Area so far.

Some family members said they'll be able to care for their loved ones for a while and will begin figuring out how long they will stay later.

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