Metro Detroit woman returns after being trapped in Ukraine

A week ago, Valentina Barsukova was stuck in the Ukraine after traveling home for her mother's 85th birthday party and being trapped when Russia invaded the country.

Now, she's back. After a journey that played out like a movie, Barsukova is home and back in front of her class at Valentina's Dance School in Clawson.

The last time we spoke with Barsukova, there were explosions around the apartment where she was staying and tanks were rolling through the streets. After a week on the run, she's home but not exactly carefree.

"(I'm) tired, worried about my mom who was left behind. Most of my friends and family left Ukraine," she said. "My friend just left the car in the parking lot and took a train."

Barsukova said her friend put their whole life in a backpack and abandoned everything else behind in the war-torn country.

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She said it was a daily battle to get back home.

"We just took it day by day," Barsukova said.

Last Monday, she was trapped in the country during the invasion. She and her husband flew to Kharkiv for her mom's birthday only to be trapped. They tried to escape but that was risky for a lot of reasons.

"We took a taxi. Taxis don’t want to drive. It was a lot of money to convince him to drive because of the shootings," Barsukova said.

The next few days were a fight to board a train, followed by a 20-hour ride to the border and another 3-hour wait to cross. Along the way, there were long lines of families and limited space for people to rest.

On Monday, a week after we talked with her, she's back home and will focus on her dance student's upcoming competition.

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"Yea, I’ve got to (focus on my students). They were waiting for me. They missed a lot of classes. I need to get them straight and get them right," she said.

Her message to her students and everyone is clear.

"You never know what’s going to happen in your life. You just need to be healthy, strong, willing to help," Barsukova said.

She said she plans to host a supply drive and fundraiser for the people who left the country and is thinking about doing virtual ballet lessons for Ukrainian children to help them cope.

Barsukova said her mom has food and water and is doing well, despite the Russian invasion.