Musician on tour in Ukraine comes to Seattle to escape war

A musician says she and her bandmates escaped from Ukraine after seeing bombs dropped right outside her window near Kyiv.  

Iryna Kovalenko plays a variety of instruments and serves as a vocalist in her band, DakhaBrakha.  She says she woke up early on Feb. 24 to make coffee to get ready for the band's tour in Ukraine. That's when she could see bombs going off near the airport.  

She says it was a shocking and frightening experience because she wasn't expecting an attack.  

They decided to leave immediately after finding out that Ukraine was under attack. Kovalenko made her escape through the mountains by driving west. She says there were traffic jams along the way with people trying to flee in a panic.  


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Adoptions and hosting children from Ukraine are currently on pause since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of the country. 

Kovalenko says it took around four days to get out of the country and to safety. 

She says before leaving, she grabbed everything that she had prepared for a tour and stuffed it in a small backpack. She headed west to get back to her family in the United States. 

Kovalenko is happy to be back safe with her husband and family in the United States, but she says even though her "body is here" she feels like her "soul and heart are there."  

She says many extended family members still live in Ukraine, and that it has been difficult to speak with her grandparents because they live near Chernobyl and have lost power.  Family members have only been able to communicate with them through a neighbor who owns a small generator.   

Despite the destruction happening there, she believes Ukraine will ultimately win the war against Russia in Ukraine because the people are united. 

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