Russia unleashed a barrage of airstrikes against a military base in western Ukraine on Sunday, bringing the war just 11 miles from Poland's border.

Western officials say the attack was a shift in tactics, furthering concerns the invasion could lead to a larger European conflict. Ukrainian filmmaker Olga Zhurzhenko, who up until a few weeks ago was working in Kyiv on an animated feature, joined host Lisa McRee from Poland for an interview on "LA Times Today."

What You Need To Know

  • More than 2.8 million refugees have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded in February

  • Olga Zhurzhenko, a Ukrainian filmmaker, escaped to Poland with most of her family

  • Her children’s father and her work are still in Ukraine

  • So many Ukrainians have volunteered for military service to defend their country that they are being turned away, Zhurzhenko said

Zhurzhenko spoke about fleeing from Ukraine and the fear she felt both for herself and her loved ones as they raced to safety.

"The crowds on the roads from Kyiv that from that morning were crazy," she said. "People were so scared. They would just take any bus or any car, and just go from Kyiv to any other place. I was responsible for a studio of 13 people. Everyone fled to other cities, where their families are. We were just scared to death to see what happened, and the fear those rockets and missiles. And I still feel that those are the things that followed. After I heard that in Kyiv, I went to Odessa. On the day when we were leaving, I heard the first bombing, in Odessa. I heard sirens in Odessa, and then we left to the western part of the country. When we crossed the Polish border, we were like looking at the sky and afraid."

Zhurzhenko's children made it out with her. She kept them unaware of how much danger they were in as they fled. Unfortunately, not all of Zhurzhenko's loved ones have made it out of Ukraine. Among her family members still in Odessa is the father of her young children. In addition to fearing for their safety, Zhurkzhenko says Ukrainians are worried about the destruction of their historical cultural sites.

"We are worried about them. Mainly, we're worried that they will be harmed and the majority of my friends or relatives who are still in Odessa are really worried about cultural sites [there]. Historical venues like the Opera House and our famous street, which is featured in many films, and the port, because if they bomb the city, the historical venues in the city will be destroyed. So for me, as a person who works on culture, this is the most awful thing. They already destroyed one of the museums. And if they destroy like, historical cultural sites in Odessa, that's going to be painful."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been pleading with the U.S. to establish a No-Fly Zone, among other asks, but so far, the Biden administration has not given them to him. Vice President Kamala Harris visited Warsaw, and Zhurzhenko was one of a handful of refugees who met with her in a private setting. She shared what she and her fellow refugees discussed with Harris.

"We told her that we need weapons and jets and all that. Some of us mentioned that we wanted a No-Fly Zone over Ukraine. Odessa was divided into a Russian-speaking part and a Ukrainian-speaking part, and that Odessa was the city that was undecided about who they wanted to be with, either towards Russian territories or towards the West and Ukraine. What I actually told her is that none of that is left in war. People are not divided anymore, and there is no question about which direction everyone should take. Everyone is so involved in the safety, in the helping out, to the point where they sign up to volunteer, to serve in the military."

According to Zhurzhenko, so many people have offered to serve in the defense of Ukraine that they have started to be turned away.

"Those lines are huge, and they don't stop," she said. "People are coming and coming. So many men that I know are saying that they want to sign up and go serve, but there is no need for right now. They are not organized yet to take the untrained people. Those who left Ukraine to earn money in the European countries are returning. Thousands and thousands of them are now coming back from Poland, from other European countries to fight. People are so committed to protecting the independence of Ukraine, not just in Ukraine, but also abroad."

Before Russia invaded, Zhurzhenko was making an animated film called "The Peasants." The film industry has been blossoming in Ukraine, and she was in Kyiv working on the film when she had to flee. She is hopeful that her studio and work will be there when she can return.

"Our studio is one and a half kilometers away from the TV tower that was hit recently, if you remember. If a missile doesn't hit the building, that our studio was in, we will reinstall the cameras and start the work again. The majority of the painters who worked on the film are still in Ukraine. There's just very few who actually came to Poland to work in the Polish studio on the same film."

The Ukrainian people have seen support from around the world, from donations to protests. Zhurzhenko also shared what she hopes the American people can do to help.

"The decision is not mind about what to do and how to do it. In front of the Kamala Harris, I cried a number of times. In front of just regular American people, I would say, just to help. Ukrainians are busy, and they're afraid to ask for help. Zelensky is quite a great guy because he knows how to ask for help, and this is very different from the mentality of Ukrainians, I would say, because Ukrainians are afraid to ask, afraid to show their need. And so, if you know any Ukrainian in need, just offer your help... because they want it."

To help Ukraine, many organizations are accepting donations. For a list of verified organizations to donate to, visit here.

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