War, Love and Fatigue in Ukraine
Tom Mutch reports on how one young couple's love has endured, while the strain of the country's long resistance against Russian aggression starts to take its toll
“It’s only a matter of time before I’m taken to the front”, Diana Kovalyuk remembers her boyfriend Mykhailo telling her last April, soon after he joined Lviv’s Territorial Defence. “Are you ready for that?” She was emphatic that she was “I told him I was ready to wait for him as long as necessary.” Since then, Mykhailo has been fighting on the frontlines.
Back in their hometown of Lviv, everything at first seems calm. But the marching band, the four-gun salute and the procession of mourners are an everyday sight now at the Lychakiv Cemetery. There is a seemingly endless sea of flags, most blue and yellow Ukrainian flags, but I saw Estonian, Armenian and Georgian flags sticking out from the headstones.
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Hundreds of kilometers from the frontline, and despite being spared the horrors of the Russian ground army’s assault that cities like Mykolaiv, Kherson and Kharkiv have experienced, Lviv has buried thousands of its sons and daughters. A mostly empty park next to its historic cemetery is now almost full of fresh graves. At one, a soldier cries over the picture of a fallen comrade. He then gets up and limps slowly back towards the road with a walking stick. Despite the general lack of air raid sirens, tank traps and sandbags that still pepper other Ukrainian cities, if you scratch the surface in Lviv, the war is still everywhere and missile strikes are still a danger
“It is difficult to express in words what happens inside, when the person you love is in mortal danger every minute” Diana told Byline Times in an interview. “Virtually every family in Ukraine has experienced this. Hundreds of (us) are waiting for their soldiers, thousands of mothers and children feel it almost every day.”