DRUZHKIVKA, Donetsk Oblast — Love can blossom even on the battlefield.
While Russia’s war has been a heavy burden for Ukrainians to bear, even those in the thick of the fighting find the time to celebrate life, love and happiness.
Two military couples, both halves of which fight for Ukraine’s Armed Forces, got hitched in the Donetsk Oblast town of Druzhkivka, just a few dozen kilometers away from the front lines, on June 12.
Ignoring the occasional wail of the air raid siren, the young soldiers, clad half in fatigues and half in the traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirts, vyshyvankas, gazed lovingly into each others’ eyes, flanked by their cheerful fellow service members.
“I’m worried,” about the war, said Khrystyna Liuta-Mykhalchuk, 23.
“But we are both very happy,” she and her groom, Volodymyr Mykhalchuk, 28, added in unison.
Their next move will be to go back home to Volyn Oblast, where they’re both from, to celebrate with their families. The couple only lived a short distance away from one another but had not met until two months ago, when Krystyna was ordered to visit Volodymyr’s unit.
They kept in touch and the more they spoke, the more fond they became of one another. Soon, they decided to join together for life.
The other couple, Krystyna Kalinovych-Orlych, 22, and Vitaliy Orlych, 24, had a very similar story. They also met in the war zone of Donbas, when Vitaliy was ordered to drop by her unit.
Unfortunately, the heated situation on the front means both couples’ honeymoons may have to be delayed.
“We plan to do it someday, but we'll see how things will unfold,” said Krystyna Liuta-Mykhalchuk.
Asked if he'll allow them at least a few “honey-days,” Oleksandr Volkhymenko, commander of the 14th separate mechanized brigade, gave a wry smile.
"We will give them the opportunity to rest in the rear, to celebrate this day, because they will remember it for a long time,” he replied. “In the future, commanders will decide what tasks newlyweds will undertake on the front line."
This is the first such wedding in his unit.
Asked to say a few words, Volkhymenko praised the couples and exhorted them to give birth to strong Cossacks and grow the Ukrainian nation.
“Life goes on and the war has been a part of our lives since 2014. It doesn't matter if we are fighting or not, it’s our job,” Volkhymenko said later. “The country must develop. We are creating new families, and thus developing the country, multiplying traditions, creating new ones.”
Fighting has been fierce in Donbas, with the majority of the Russian offensive concentrated on the city of Sieverodonetsk, a significant portion of which has been captured by Russian forces.
However, the Ukrainian forces are holding off the invaders across the other directions of advance and forcing them to take heavy losses, according to the General Staff.