Russia-Ukraine Crisis

Ukrainians, Russians Flee to Safety Amid Invasion

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As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, millions of refugees are on the move as some are trying to find someplace safe. Some of them have already arrived in the Bay Area.

Stanislava Padalka shated NBC Bay Area Thursday a video of the devastation inflicted on her neighborhood in Kharkiv by Russian artillery and rockets, as she drove out of her home city.

After days of ducking and covering from the rockets, bombs and bullets , Padalka decided it was just too dangerous to stay.

"Usually, the car trip from Khrkiv to Krimichuk, it takes about four hours, but we spent eleven hours,” Padalka said.

Padalka said that she made the 155-mile drive to stay with a friend. she brought her mother with her. She said it was because her mom can't walk well anymore, and it would be too hard to leave the country.

"There are a lot of people in Kharkiv, a lot of people who just cannot leave because of their health,” said Padalka. “Or just because they love their country more than anybody, or because they volunteer like my boyfriend does."

But already, international refugee agencies estimate more than half a million people have left Ukraine. One of the largest and fastest exits from a country ever.

According to Bay Area Ukrainian community organizations, some have already arrived in the Bay and more are on their way.

People trying to escape of the violence of the Russian invasion are already arriving here at San Francisco International Airport.

But it's not just Ukrainians trying to leave for about two hours, where Alex sat alone in the terminal. He only wanted us to use his first name - he says he's waiting for his nephew to arrive from Russia.

In Russia, protests against the war Vladimir Putin has waged on Ukraine - are now spreading to more cities.

Thousands of people have been arrested. Alex’s nephew was able to catch a flight out of Russia to Istanbul, turkey a couple days ago.

But he had trouble getting a ticket from there to San Francisco.

"He couldn't because his money not accepted," Alex said.

The Russian ruble has collapsed after much of the world issued sanctions because of the invasion.

Alex told NBC Bay Area that his nephew's credit cards didn't work, so he had to wire him money.

After more than two hours talking with U.S. customs agents after landing, Alex's nephew finally came through the gates.

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