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  • Українці розповідають про пережите під час війни з росією

    Ukrainians talk about their experiences during the war with russia

    Military woman

    Yelena Lanivska: “He spent his entire adult life in the war. It was his element. He was a real warrior. If there ever was one”


    АвторAuthor: Yulia Zarudnitska | Translation:

    3 July 2022

    Before the war Yelena Lanivska actively engaged in volunteer work. Together with her friend they decided to realize an idea: he became a head of Kyiv humanitarian headquarters and she was supposed to lead a little affiliation in Chernivtsi. They agreed on it on March 4th but on the 5th all the plans went awry. And as fate would have it, Yelena went to work as a medic.

    I was studying and at the same time working in a field of labor protection. I was also a member of the deputy corps of the Chernivtsi district council. Later my life, same as the lives of more than 44 million Ukrainians, was changed by the war. The war came into my life a little earlier. Or should I say, I intuitively felt it was coming.

    On February 23rd, I felt anxiety in every cell of my body. A tremor I had never had before was holding onto me all day long, and it was aggravated by the disappointing news and politicians’ announcements. Biden and Zelensky were among others. The feeling of restlessness wouldn’t leave me, and in the evening I thought that it wasn’t something I’d felt before. It seemed that the “fogginess state” had been there for a few days already, or else it was a highly pronounced anxiety. I still can’t fully explain what it was. Even to myself. 

    “On February 24th it became clear that my anxiety wasn’t for nothing. Either a woman’s intuition or instincts prepared me for a horrible course of events”. 

    I woke up early as usual, at 6:30 am. Immediately after I reached for my phone. I saw a lot of messages from my best friend. It didn’t surprise me, because she might have been sharing her latest news. But this time the content was different. She sent me news with the message that the war had started and asked: “Lena, explain what is happening”.

    Still sleepy, I started reading the news to make sense of the situation and I couldn’t make heads or tails of it. Maybe I haven’t woken up yet? Later came a moment of absolute confusion. I texted my beloved Mykhailo. But not with bad news, just our usual: “Good morning, kitten”.

    Mykhailo was sleeping a bit longer and literally slept through the beginning of the war. He texted back with “Morning, sweety. How are you?” 5 minutes later he called because he, surely, saw the news. 

    The day was chaotic. By that time I’d already understood that I wouldn’t stay in Chernivtsi, as many things should come up that need solving. Same as in 2014. So I started volunteering: I was looking for things around town, later abroad, that the military needed. I found out what was important and how to buy it. 

    Yelena Lanivska with her beloved Mykhailo

    Yelena Lanivska with her beloved Mykhailo

    Thus I became actively involved in the volunteer work. Together with my friend we decided to realize an idea: he became a head of Kyiv humanitarian headquarters and I was supposed to lead a little affiliation in Chernivtsi. We agreed on it on March 4th but on the 5th all the plans went awry.

    The evening of March 5th was, to be honest, the most awful in my life. It was the day I received the worst news. Around 10 pm a fellow soldier and one of Mykhailo’s best friends, who he served with back in 2015, called me. He said that the love of my life died, while meeting the enemy column.  

    Mykhailo had been fighting since 2014, being a member of the Right sector. In 2019 he signed a marine contract, which was supposed to end this autumn. He spent his entire adult life in the war, it was his element. He was a real hero, if ever there was one. 

    We met in quite a modern way, via social networks. He saw me on his friend’s Instagram and followed me. Then it was pretty standard: he texted me, I replied, we had a great talk, and we started chatting regularly. In a very short time I felt he was my soulmate. I noticed we didn’t have any different opinions. Everything matched. Here I would argue with a saying that opposites attract – the similars do too. 

    Before the war

    Yelena Lanivska during the period of silence

    You could say that there cannot be an absolute agreement with a person from the opposite sex. That surprised me too. At first I was wondering: “Wow, what’s going on? I cannot believe it.”

    We had plans for the future. Except for his military career, Mykhailo was pretty creative. In between the rotations he was working on his brand of T-shirts with various prints. He paused it when he signed the contract and was planning to renew the work in autumn. He was looking forward to drawing prints and diving into the process. 

    As soon as it was possible, I immediately went to Kyiv. I did a lot of things there, the first of which was saying goodbye. Quite a lot of people told me: “You have a medical degree, you’ll go to war as a medic”. I was skeptical, because despite my qualifications I never wanted to be a medic. But when I met a girl with a story identical to mine, I changed my mind. 

    Her boyfriend died on March 5th, meeting the enemy column. I heard that Hospitallers Medical Battalion (a volunteer organization of paramedics) were doing training in the next few days. I asked her if they were really doing a course. She said that at first there’s training and then immediately the rotation. It made me want to be a part of that group, because in other organizations you don’t know if they’d take you after you study, but here they offer an immediate rotation. 

    “Important factor for me was that there was a person I knew, someone whose life story was the same as mine. So I asked her if I could join her group”. 

    I had known about Hospitallers for a while. This organization was founded in summer of 2014 by Yana Zinkevitch, who is still the battalion commander. I’d never thought I would join them. 

    In general, our organization is providing pre-medical and medical assistance to the Ukrainian military and civilian population who need it. This is both evacuation from the red zone and stabilization of the victim’s condition.

    ​​I am an operational medic, a paramedic on an ambulance and I am providing assistance to the wounded on the way to the stabilization station.

    Military workdays

    Military workdays

    During my work in this medical organization, I’ve seen a lot. However, I cannot single out something special or the most terrible. Perhaps this is due to a stable core in my character. I clearly knew where I was going, and therefore I set myself up to withstand all the challenges, everything that I will see or feel.

    And maybe that’s because each trip is unique: life story, injuries. All cases are connected by war, but are completely different. And the main task is to provide timely and high-quality assistance.

    Чому важливо поширити цю історію?
    Якщо українці не розповідатимуть свій погляд на війну в Україні, світ поступово забуватиме про нас. Натомість цим обов’язково скористаються росіяни. Тому не даймо їм жодного шансу.

    Why is it important to share this story?
    If Ukrainians do not share their views on the war in Ukraine, the world will gradually forget about us. Instead, the Russians will definitely take advantage of this. So let's not give them a chance.

    АвторAuthor: Yulia Zarudnitska | Translation:


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