Ukraine: female slices of war

Ukraine: female slices of war

Kateryna never takes pictures of her comrades before going to the front. It brings bad luck. Karina especially does not tell her mother that she is going to the “zero line”. Iana posts her military “stories” on social media to cheer up those in the rear.

That day, the three women are resting with the rest of their company in a village in eastern Ukraine, before a new rotation.

They agree to give themselves up, a little, on their life at the front, this war which they did not expect, and these five months which seem “to have lasted years”.

Kateryna Novakivska, 29, is the deputy commander of a company operating for a month in Donbass, the industrial region of eastern Ukraine which the Russians are trying to take control of, and where fighting is raging.

A small, slender brunette with black eyes, the young woman, originally from Vinnytsia (center), had just graduated from the army academy when the war broke out. It is notably in charge of the moral and psychological support of the troops. After the usual speech on the “satisfactory morale” of the soldiers and the merits of their fight, she ends up confiding more.

“The hardest thing for them is losing comrades,” and for her, knowing how to distance herself from the horror stories of her soldiers. “They confide in me more easily because there are so many things they cannot tell their loved ones…”

Their greatest fear, she says, is being left behind, dead or injured, on the battlefield. She remembers a fatal day, May 28, when eleven soldiers were killed and twenty missing. In the din of the assault, men disappear and no one can say what happened to them.

She herself confides that her fear is of being kidnapped by the Russians, “but I have planned everything” she says, barely veiled allusion to the possibility of committing suicide before falling into the hands of the enemy.

She has a slight scar on her nose, a memory of the blast from an explosion in March, and on her forearm a lotus flower, a tattoo made in 2017 in Volnovakha, a town in the region “which no longer exists , which is now occupied by the Russians”.

– Slices of life –

On social networks, Iana Pazdrii is a lovely bimbo with lacquered nails and military fatigues. In reality, she is a 35-year-old woman engaged since the beginning of the Russian invasion in Ukraine, who, like all her comrades, has not seen her child for five months.

“I joined because I’m a patriot, I thought I could be useful here, and I am,” she says without false modesty.

As soon as she has time, the young woman posts on Instagram or Tik Tok small slices of military life, where we see her driving an armored vehicle, posing with a Kalashnikov.

“Soldiers live on the + zero line + under the bombs, and I try to show that we keep our morale despite everything, to tell people not to be afraid, that the army is doing everything to defend the country”, she says.

“But honestly, sometimes it’s hard,” she admits, saying that she found “a family” in the army.

Dozens of soldiers are dying every day on Ukraine’s eastern front, where Russian forces made major advances in May and June, seizing nearly the entire Lugansk region. Since then, the front has not really changed, but the artillery battles are fierce and relentless.

– “Zero line” –

It is towards the front lines that Karina drives her VBCI (armored infantry fighting vehicle). The young woman, also a mechanic, says she had a little trouble at first getting used to the distorted and limited view of the outside environment from the driving position, and the heaviness of the vehicle.

This former worker in a textile factory, of Tajik origin, signed in 2020 with the army for a two-year contract.

“When you’re on the positions, it’s hard to think of the comrades, to hope that no one will be killed or injured, that it will not fall on you,” she says.

Her husband, who stayed at home, watched her go to war with anguish. “But nobody tells me what to do,” she says.

However Karina still has a little trouble calling her mother, so distressed. “I don’t tell her that I’m on the zero line, she pretends to believe me”.

Karina has no illusions, the war will not end quickly, and “the Russians have already taken a lot of land” in Ukraine.

“Anyway, we will win. We have no right to lose,” relaunched Iana. After the war, she will go to the Caribbean, and to South America.

“My dreams have to come true. I think I deserve it,” she says with her huge smile.

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