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Ukrainians in Colorado keep in close contact with relatives

Konstantyn Kyrkun spoke with his cousin on Thursday. He said he was taking shelter in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

AURORA, Colo. — Konstantyn Kyrkun feels like he's living in two different time zones.

“The past week since this began, we sleep like three, four hours a day," Kyrkun said.

On Thursday morning, Kyrkun sat on the couch inside the Aurora home he shares with his wife, Alyona, and their son, Richard, thinking about his family and friends living nine hours ahead in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

“I’m just trying to monitor everything," Kyrkun said.

Kyrkun and his wife have been glued to their phones checking social media and making calls to family living in a city and country under siege.

“Russia assaulted Ukraine," Kyrkun said. "That’s what I see.”

Kharkiv is where Kyrkun was born and where he's lived half of his life. On Thursday, residents rushed Kharkiv's train station to escape the bombs and shelling that left much of the city in ruin. 

“Emotionally, I am over there," Kyrkun said. "I’m -- you know, when I’m falling asleep, I’m fighting.”

When Kyrkun wakes, he's in Aurora, Colorado, and it can be a helpless feeling being so far away. His phone connects him to loved ones, like a cousin he spoke to on Thursday morning. 

“She told me that she doesn’t know what’s going on," Kyrkun said. "That she hopes that they will survive.”

Kyrkun said his cousin told him many people are hiding in basements of buildings to escape the bombs. He keeps conversations with relatives brief so they can conserve their phone batteries.

“We don’t ask them, ‘Hey, how you doing?’ No, no, no, no," Kyrkun said. "We ask them, ‘Are you alive?’ That’s it.”

Kyrkun continues to live in two time zones, and he much prefers the Ukraine of the past to the present.

"My hope is that it is some kind of nightmare," Kyrkun said. "That at some point, I will wake up and nothing happens.”

The United Nations said more than 1 million people fled Ukraine after Russia began its invasion.

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