Tatyana Burak survived 45 days in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol before escaping to safety in Lviv with her husband.
Both Burak, who is an English teacher, and her husband were injured. She said her home was bombed and destroyed.
Burak described her experience in Mariupol to CNN’s Ana Cabrera, saying “it was like living in a nightmare.”
“It was a horrible dream which thousands of people were dreaming at the same time and it had no end. So, we spent a lot of time in the hospital because we were wounded right at the beginning of this Russian onslaught and we were taken by our military doctors to the hospital and so we felt every single bomb, every single shell which was going to our city,” Burak said.
Burak noted that early on in the war, she knew Mariupol was “doomed’ and that Russian troops invaded the city with the notion that they were there to “liberate” Ukrainians.
“We understood there is nothing to be expected, that our city was doomed because these people came, as they said, to ‘liberate us.’ They didn’t know what they were going to liberate us from, but they said that we were suffering and they came to liberate us. They liberated us from our homes, from our jobs, from the possessions of all our lives, from our family history. They liberated many thousands of people from their lives. They just — I don’t know. They seem to be just crazy and insane,” she said.
Burak said that soldiers asked her if she was “glad” they came, and that they were “surprised” that people were not expressing “signs of ultimate joy that they came.”
She said that when they tried to tell them “our homes were destroyed by your shells, by your tanks, by your bombs, they just look at us and said, ‘Okay. That’s okay. We’ll restore everything in two months. And your city will be even much better.'”
“So they just didn’t understand what they were doing, or they were deliberately doing it just because they wanted to kill everybody,” Burak continued.
Watch the interview: