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For one Montezuma County family with roots in Ukraine, the Russian invasion is hitting close to home

Volodymyr and Luba in Kharkiv 2020.jpeg
Courtesy of the Erlandson family
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Natasha Erlandson's parents, Volodymyr and Luba, lived in Kharkiv, Ukraine until a few days ago. Now they are refugees working their way here to Montezuma County.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is having ripple effects across the globe from the highest levels of geopolitics to the most personal parts of people's lives. That includes right here in Southwest Colorado. 

Natasha Erlandson and her husband Todd live here in Montezuma County, but the two met years ago in Ukraine.  Todd was a missionary there at the time, and now he’s the pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in Cortez. By now, Natasha has been in the states for more than twenty years.

But she grew up in the city of Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine, which has been the target of heavy Russian attacks over the last few weeks.  And until just a few days ago, her parents, Volodymyr and Luba, still lived in the city. They had to escape the city and make their way across eastern Europe by car - as refugees. Now, Volodymyr and Luba are safe in Germany, preparing for the last leg of their journey - a flight to America, and eventually to Cortez, Colorado.

KSJD's Lucas Brady Woods sat down with Natasha and Todd at Grace Fellowship Church to talk about their family’s experience.

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Lucas Brady Woods
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KSJD
Natasha and Todd Erlandson run the Grace Fellowship Church in Cortez, where Todd is the pastor.
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Courtesy of the Erlandson family
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Natasha as a baby and her mother Luba in 1979. Natasha is originally from Ukraine, but moved to Montezuma County with her husband Todd.
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Courtesy of the Erlandson family
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Natasha, pictured here at 12 years old, grew up in Kharkiv, Ukraine, which has been a target of heavy Russian attacks since the invasion of Ukraine began a few weeks ago.
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Courtesy of the Erlandson family
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When Russia's invasion began, Volodymyr and Luba, Natasha's parents, watched missiles fall on Kharkiv from their apartment window, pictured here before the war.
Natalia and Luba in downtown Kharkiv 2016.jpeg
Courtesy of the Erlandson family
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Natasha with her mother Luba in downtown Kharkiv in 2016. Natasha and Todd visited family in Ukraine many times over the years.

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Lucas is the News Director for KSJD Community Radio. His work focuses on serving the public of the Four Corners with responsible, factual reporting.