Ukrainian mother with family in New York living in terror with her children

EAST VILLAGE, Manhattan (WABC) -- A family in New York is trying to get their relatives out of Ukraine and into the United States.

In a bomb shelter beneath the streets, on the outskirts of the capital city, a woman and her two children are coping with war on their doorstep.

Iuliia Stelmashchuk and her daughters, 5-year-old Karolina and 13-year-old Kristeina have fled their home and are living now with their neighbors, underground -- here they can hear explosions in the distance.

"Right now, is very dangerous situation in Ukraine, really not anyone could understand what is going on," Stelmashchuk said through an interpreter.

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The bombing and the shelling has intensified. Casualties are rising as the Russian army closes in on Kyiv and the Ukrainian military is fighting back.

Eyewitness News spoke to Iuliia on Friday afternoon. She told reporter N.J. Burkett she is terrified because she has no idea what the night will bring, let alone the coming days.

"Every time when we want to go upstairs, a little girl, she says her name is Karolina and she says I don't want to go upstairs because over there is war, and we are really, really scared," Stelmashchuk said.

Her youngest daughter, Karolina, was born in New York City. And her own mother lives on Long Island. They are desperate to escape Ukraine -- but it's too dangerous now to leave the city.

"We tried twice, first time, when we tried to go to our apartment, we were on the middle of the road," Stelmashchuk said. "And when we heard explosive, I just grabbed my two children and run away to bomb shelter."

The mother says she is trying to stay strong, trying to stay optimistic. But it is getting harder as the sound of missile strikes gets closer and closer.

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Thousands of displaced Ukrainian citizens have escaped to Poland and other parts of Europe since Russian military forces invaded the country.

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