ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — Russia has gained control of Ukraine’s nuclear power plant, which is the largest plant in all of Europe. Russia is now using the plant as a military base.

On Monday, White House officials said the Biden Administration has distributed more than $8 billion in material and security assistance for Ukraine since the invasion began in late February.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is calling for mass evacuations as war intensifies. It comes as St. Pete doctor, Mariya Vengrenyuk, from western Ukraine recently traveled back to her home country to help bring aid.

Vengrenyuk spent two weeks in Poland and Ukraine. She helped provide extra hands at clinics at the border, delivered supplies and saw her family. She said this could have been her reality if her parents did not get their green card and move to the U.S. when she was nine years old.

“When I came back, I was I was very depressed. (I) know why it was very difficult for me because you try to be hopeful but it’s war,” said Vengrenyuk.

She saw anti-tank barriers along the road to stop Russian tanks.

“I spent the first five days at the border at the medical clinic right as refugee cross from Ukraine into Poland,” she said.

Vengrenyuk saw mostly women and children escaping Ukraine with only a small bag with their most beloved items, leaving the rest behind.
“They were telling us about their lives — about their story — they’re pretty much just moving into Europe, but they don’t know what’s next,” said Vengrenyuk.

She was told horrific stories of bombings, rape and death. The United Nations said more than 5,100 civilians have died since February, including hundreds of children.

“We were driving from the border into western Ukraine. I don’t know — I see, I see Ukrainian troops in tanks, but I really don’t know could there be Russian tanks as well,” she said.

She heard the constant and chilling sound of sirens echoing through cities.

“The fear is really you don’t know are you going to get bombed right now,” she said.

Vengrenyuk said she brought needed equipment and supplies into hospitals.

“Many amputees. Some people have lost both extremities. Some people have lost three extremities,” she said.

Despite the heartache, there was a bittersweet moment for Vengrenyuk, where she finally connected with her family.

“Everybody’s worried each other but it was just war-talk,” she said. “Everyone’s worried. No one knows what the future holds, especially for the children. They have the backpacks and suitcases ready in case they need to escape.”

As uncertainty of the future looms, Vengrenyuk said she is appreciative of how many people, even with no connection to Ukraine, are helping.

“During four times like this — yes, it’s terrible what’s happening — but you meet so many good people at people who just you know the fact that they’re so selfless and they’re going in there and they were volunteering and their time and money. I was really humbled by that.”

If you are interested in learning more about Revived Soldiers Ukraine or the fundraisers at Epiphany of Our Lord Ukrainian Catholic Church, click here. Vengrenyuk works closely with both organizations to continue to bring aid to Ukraine.