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Arriving at JFK Airport, Ukrainian refugee Marina Stepaniuk tells of her ordeal of fleeing Kyiv

A Ukrainian woman who fled Kyiv to stay with family in New York described her “devastating” escape from her home to The Post after arriving safely at Kennedy Airport on Friday night.

Marina Stepaniuk, 37, hugged her cousin’s husband Dmytro Shuba, 36, as he picked her up at the airport and presented her with purple and white carnations.

Stepaniuk, an events planner in the Ukrainian capital, said she knows when “the city should flee”. Russian air raids started on February 24th.

“I saw Russian planes over the Ukrainian sky – the explosions, the noise, [buildings] trembling with vibrations,” said Stepaniuk in Ukrainian, as Schuba translated.

The fugitive said she hid in a suburban basement with friends for a few days before getting in her car and driving west. She arrived in Novohrad-Volyns’kyi, Ukraine on February 28 and made it to Poland the next day.

“It took 13 hours to cross the border. All refugees tried to get out of Ukraine,” said Stepaniuk.

Marina Stepaniuk arrived at JFK Airport on March 4, 2022 after fleeing Ukraine.
Marina Stepaniuk arrived at JFK Airport on March 4, 2022 after fleeing Ukraine.
Robert Mecea

She was one of several people from Ukraine on the 9-hour flight from Warsaw, Poland, which landed at JFK on Friday.

However, her parents stayed behind in Novohrad.

“They don’t want to go because it’s their country, they don’t want to flee,” Stepaniuk said.

“It’s very worrying. I cried on the way here,” she said of leaving her family behind. “It’s a devastating thing that’s happening.”


Get the latest Update in the Russia-Ukraine conflict with live coverage of The Post.


Stepaniuk arrived in the Big Apple with just two suitcases and a travel visa.

Shuba, who lives in Dobbs Ferry and works as a caretaker, said of his wife’s cousin, “She’s part of our family and can stay as long as she needs to.”

He would have returned to his hometown of Kyiv to take up arms against Russia, he said, if he hadn’t committed himself to his 5-year-old daughter and young son in the US.

“I have two children. That’s the only thing holding me back. Otherwise I would be there,” said Schuba, who wore a blue and yellow Ukrainian flag sticker on his arm.

Dmytro Shuba gives a bouquet of flowers to his wife's cousin, Marina Stepaniuk, who arrived at JFK Airport from Poland on March 4, 2022.
Dmytro Shuba gives a bouquet of flowers to his wife’s cousin, Marina Stepaniuk, who arrived at JFK Airport from Poland on March 4, 2022.
Robert Mecea

Shuba, who said he immigrated to the United States 21 years ago, was concerned that his grandfather and uncle were unavailable at home.

“It just doesn’t get anywhere,” he said of the call to his 84-year-old grandfather.

“It’s barbaric. You don’t do that in the 21st century,” Shuba continued, referring to the Russian invasion.

“I think he’s the Antichrist,” he said of Russian President Vladimir Putin. “The worst thing that can happen to a country is when a KGB leader takes over.”

Marina Stepaniuk announced that her parents stayed in Ukraine in the midst of the Russian invasion.
Marina Stepaniuk announced that her parents stayed in Ukraine in the midst of the Russian invasion.
Robert Mecea

His fleeing relative said she was sad to be forced to leave her “good life” planning parties in Kyiv – but she hoped Ukraine could hold off the Russian invasion.

“Everyone in Ukraine believes that we will win the war and return to peace. That’s what we want,” said Stepaniuk.

Have a million refugees already fled Ukraine since the beginning of the Moscow war, and millions more are on their heels, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The USA announced Thursday that Ukrainian citizens who had resided in the US before March 1 could stay for 18 months. This humanitarian aid would not affect Stepaniuk.

When asked if she had a message for Putin, Stepaniuk did not mince words.

“Get yourself down,” she said, laughing.

https://nypost.com/2022/03/05/ukraine-refugee-marina-stepaniuk-arriving-at-jfk-airport-recounts-her-ordeal-escaping-kyiv/ Arriving at JFK Airport, Ukrainian refugee Marina Stepaniuk tells of her ordeal of fleeing Kyiv

JACLYN DIAZ

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