KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, those in the Kansas City area with family members overseas are still monitoring the situation.
Dr. Alexey Ladokhin, KU Medical Center professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, has been keeping close tabs on his parents in Kyiv and other family members in Ukraine.
"One of the nephews joined army on the second day's fighting, another nephew joined the territorial defense, he's running humanitarian aid across Ukraine, and the rest of 47 million of my immediate family are putting in a pretty good fight," Ladokhin said.
Luckily this week he was reunited with one family member when his 12-year-old daughter, Solomia, made it to Kansas City.
"As the situation got worse and worse, we decided that was the time that I had to go," she said.
With proper documentation, Solomia was able to enter the U.S. without a visa.
"She is a U.S. citizen, so she has a passport," Ladokhin said. "We were lucky because we didn't have to have a visa for her."
However, her exit out of Ukraine was not as easy.
"We drove to the border by the bus for around three hours, and on the border, we were there for 18, if I'm not mistaken. It was quite a journey," Solomia said. "And when we passed the border, we had to go to Warsaw, so another five hours."
She said after escaping from Ukraine to Poland, her travels didn’t stop there.
"We got to the Warsaw airport early in the morning — we had to wake up around 4 a.m. if I’m not mistaken. And then we flew to London. After London, we flew to Chicago and then to Kansas City," she said.
Solomia's one of millions who left.
"Over 2 million, maybe close to 3 million, of Ukrainians had to flee their homes due to the savage bombardment of Russian armed forces," Ladokhin said.
Even though she is glad to be in Kansas City, she said she can't shake the feeling that something is off.
"I am happy, but I still have the feeling that I left something behind," Solomia said.
But one thing she didn't leave behind is her favorite activity — playing the piano, a skill she has mastered since the age of 4.
"It gives me peace of mind," Solomia said as the country she fled fights for peace.