Winona man teaching in Ukraine describes current situation as Russia invades

Published: Feb. 25, 2022 at 7:07 PM CST
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(KTTC) – A man from Winona, Minnesota has spent the last several months in Ukraine as a teacher.

He and his family are now in hiding, afraid as Russian forces make their advance.

Tyler Jacob grew up in Winona and still has family here, but he’s been teaching English in Ukraine the past 4 months and says everything was going well there until this week.

Pillars of smoke after explosion.
Photo provided by Tyler Jacob
Pillars of smoke after explosion. Photo provided by Tyler Jacob(KTTC)

“Yeah, it’s very grim and is definitely strange walking outside when there’s sunshine and it sounds like thunder off in the distance,” Jacob said.

Jacob and his Ukrainian wife didn’t want to share their current location with us, afraid Russia will track them down.

Jacob said there is a curfew in place at night and his family spends most of the day indoors.

“All of a sudden we started hearing a lot of explosions and just crazy things,” Jacob said. “My wife and I ran to the window quickly, and I took video, there’s helicopters flying off in the distance, like over the buildings, and just explosions and gunfire.”

Jacob says it’s stressful trying to figure out a way to leave without having to worry about being attacked.

“Trying to make sure we have enough food until we can actually leave or worrying about if they are going to come here and try to kill us, or everything that’s going on,” Jacob said. “They say they’re not suppose to hurt civilians, but I mean if they are running people over in the streets and shooting cars along the roads trying to leave, it doesn’t seem exactly civil.”

Smoke from explosions.
Provided by Tyler Jacob
Smoke from explosions. Provided by Tyler Jacob(KTTC)

Jacob says this is unlike anything he’s ever experienced, but knows the Ukrainian people are resilient.

“Their mentality for this is a lot different,” Jacob said. “Her and I have discussed this before; that lifestyle here is they are about surviving, where America is about development.”

He hopes the United States will get involved and help Ukraine.

“The one thing I wish would happen is American boots would come here because that would make a lot of people feel a lot more comfortable knowing that one of the world’s strongest military is at least going to push back against this,” Jacob said.

Jacob told us his family here in the U.S. is very worried and scared.

He also said the air space over Ukraine has been shut down since Tuesday, so he and other Americans are unable to return to the States.

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