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Russia's Ukraine war forces citizens to scramble for safety: 'No one was expecting this'

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Russia’s full-scale war on Ukraine came as a shock to many of its residents now scrambling to escape to safety.

“No one was expecting this,” Tanya Bazanova, a 34-year-old living in the center of Kyiv, told Fox News on Thursday morning. “I am trying to stay calm because panic is not a good thing, but everyone here is panicked. It is not possible to leave the city because of the traffic jams.” 

Bazanova had planned to leave Kyiv for Barcelona, Spain, on Thursday evening but eventually determined it’s no longer possible, especially since Ukraine’s airports have shut down.

“It is hurting me that I missed leaving by just one day. That one day can change my life so much.”

Bazanova was born to Russian parents in the USSR and has lived in Ukraine since the country gained independence in 1991. “At home, we speak Russian,” she said.

A tank spotted on the side of a road in the Kyiv area.

A tank spotted on the side of a road in the Kyiv area.
(Tanya Bazanova)

However, she stressed that her nationality is Ukrainian. “I do not, and I have not ever met anyone who thinks we should be a part of Russia,” she continued. “We are our own country now, and while we have some problems, we are happy with living here in Ukraine. If I wanted to be in Russia, I would have moved there already.”

In Luhansk, a city in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, the situation has been more dire. 

“This is a full-scale war,” a father of two living on the outskirts of Luhansk, who wished to be identified only as Surgey, told Fox News. “We can hear the roar of shelling,” he said. “The city is empty, this was never ever.”


Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday signed a decree officially recognizing Donetsk and Luhansk as their own republics. 

“On the day of the recognition, the Russian military immediately drove into our city.” said Surgey, “After Putin’s decision to recognize the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR), it has become even more terrible here.”

Russian-backed separatists have been in control of the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk since 2014, but Putin’s official recognition of the territories as breakaway republics opened the way for what could turn into a permanent presence of Russian troops in the area.


On Wednesday evening, before Russia launched its full-scale invasion, Surgery explained the tension felt in the region. He said late last week, “the so-called ‘government’ of the LPR began the evacuation of women and children to Russia.” He added that the government forced men between the ages of 18 and 55 to “stand in defense of their homeland… even people who have never held a weapon in their lives.” 

Surgey said he just wanted peace so he could raise his two sons.

“I am not at all concerned about the geographical and political part of this conflict,” he said. “It is important that people can again live in peace, dream, plan, build a career and create a family. I want my children to be able to safely play with friends, go to school … which country this is called, it doesn’t matter to me.”


Neither Ukrainian who spoke to Fox News for this report took comfort in President Biden’s response to the crisis.

“In my opinion, the U.S. reaction to these events is too soft,” Surgery said, referring to the rollout of sanctions announced by Biden on Wednesday.

Bazanova echoed that sentiment in Kyiv.

“All they ever say is ‘deep concerns.’ These are just words. We need action.” 

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