Lehigh University grad in Ukraine sends Action News emails as Russian invasion underway

"I'm afraid, but I'm not leaving," Alina Beskrovna said.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- As Russian troops attacked Ukraine on Thursday, Action News was in communication with a Lehigh University graduate from Mariupol, Ukraine.

Mariupol is 20 miles from the occupied zone of Donetsk.

We initially interviewed Alina Beskrovna on Wednesday just before Ukraine was attacked from the north, east and south.

Even before Russia attacked, Vladimir Putin had recognized Donetsk as "independent" and Russian troops had already moved in.

In emails exchanged with Action News reporter Katherine Scott on Thursday, Beskrovna relayed that heavy shelling began around 2 a.m.

Beskrovna wrote, "Russia hitting strategic objects and residential areas. Sheltering at a basement. Will keep you posted as long as possible."

In another email she wrote, "Unmarked soldiers entered school #67. Kicked all the staff out and are taking over the school."

Prior to the attack, she spoke of the rising tensions in Ukraine.

"The tension is in the air. You can feel the anxiety. My city was actually shelled by the Russians in January 2015, only the outskirts - the eastern part, but everybody can remember what it was like. We can hear the shelling at night," Beskrovna told Action News' Jillian Mele on Wednesday.

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To address the crisis at its border after publicly downplaying warnings, Ukraine on Wednesday took steps to brace for a possible Russian invasion.

"I'm afraid, but I'm not leaving," added Beskrovna.

"They target Ukrainian intellectuals and activists, and by target I mean torture and kill them. They know who has been active. They keep lists. Wherever Russia comes, there's no life anymore."

For the last three weeks, Beskrovna says she has used her American education to help interpret and translate for journalists on the frontlines.

"Whoever wanted to leave has left already. It's not about not being able to leave, it's about deciding not to go," she said.
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