EXCLUSIVE: Ukrainian man helping refugees says Russian missiles were only miles from NATO base

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A U.S. citizen with ties to the Bay Area is speaking to ABC7 News about his journey of being stuck in Ukraine not far from the Polish Border. Despite the Russian threat, Taras Petro says he's staying in the war torn country to help refugees get to safety.

"When I looked outside, I saw a very bright shadow of light fly by," said Taras Petro.

Petro believes those were Russian missiles he saw early Sunday, seconds before striking a Ukrainian military base where foreign fighters were being trained only miles from NATO territory at the Polish border.

"The problem is if it had gone a few miles west, that would have been beginning of WWIII," Petro added.

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Petro is staying in Western Ukraine. He's a translator from the Midwest with family ties in the Bay Area. He found himself stuck in the country after some unfortunate events.

"I got COVID and I couldn't leave, then I wanted to leave a couple of days right after the invasion but all the flights were canceled," Petro said.

He says the lights in his village must go dark by 9 p.m. to help avoid being a Russian target.

Ukrainian tanks are constantly seen on the move thru cities and towns. Petro is also in transit, driving his black Hummer. He's now helping to shuttle refugees 12 miles to the Polish border where lines and wait times are painfully long.

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"At this point I'm going to stay here and try and help as many people as possible get to safety," he said.

Petro says he's willing to forfeit his own safety to help. He can't predict what will happen next but knows the toughest fight, may be yet to come.

"Ukrainians are peaceful but they will not give up the bread basket of Europe," he added.

Petro has been helping refugees with overnight accommodations at the border sometimes paying for Airbnb's out of his own pocket.

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