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Springfield family that immigrated from Ukraine worried about loved ones in Russian invasion

Published: Feb. 24, 2022 at 6:11 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Imagine air raid sirens going off in your town or tanks going down your neighborhood streets and you can begin to understand what Americans who moved here from Ukraine are going through right now.

“It really hurts,” said Andrey Vakhrushev about his reaction to Russia’s invasion of his native Ukraine. “People don’t want any war, any blood, any tears on their cheeks.”

Andrey and his wife Anna are the owners of Martin Alterations in south Springfield and both grew up in the central part of Ukraine. They moved to Colorado in 2002 but four years later when they visited Anna’s brother in the Ozarks, they fell in love with the area.

“As we were driving south from Kansas City we were like, ‘Whoa, whoa! This is beautiful!’” Andrey recalled. “It’s just like in Ukraine where we grew up with the trees and geography.”

“People were so nice. They were always smiling,” Anna added. “When I was in Colorado they would hear the accent and say, ‘O.K. never mind.’ But here people say, ‘Oh, you have a beautiful accent! Where are you from?’ I was just amazed and we’ve always been welcomed everywhere. I’ve had so much help from others even when we got ready to open the business. They said, ‘You can do it!’ Just very encouraging to us.”

But now the couple and their five children are enduring some anxious moments as they still have family and friends whose lives have suddenly been turned upside down.

“I was really worried about the situation and was up to three this morning,” Andrey said of watching TV deep into the night when Russia invaded. “I tried to reach my brother who lives in Ukraine. He has 12 kids and a wife. Even this morning I couldn’t reach him. But I wish to hear his voice.”

Anna has been following her former classmates on Twitter.

“They’re really sad and scared saying things like, ‘Hey, do you have any underground place ready with food?’” Anna said. “Some of the girls are saying, ‘I’m ready. I packed up all my clothes, all my documents and my bags are on the table. If something happens I’m going to just run. But I don’t know why I should run because if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen everywhere.’”

The Vakhrushevs were hoping that their hometown in the middle of Ukraine would escape the bombings, but friends there are saying otherwise.

“They’re saying, ‘You won’t believe what I just heard! (making the sound of incoming rockets) Right now you hear all that noise and the kids are crying,’” Anna said.

Having lived through Ukraine’s independence from the former Soviet Union, Andrey and Anna know what life under Communist rule was like and they don’t want to see their homeland become a part of the Russian regime.

“Freedom is the most important at this time,” Andrey said.

“It’s going to be really scary for everyone,” Anna sighed. “But I believe the Ukrainian people are really strong. They have big faith and know they will survive. I know that God is on our side.”

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