Life goes on as Ukrainian army holds war weddings

Air raid sirens sounded and one of the brides wore camouflage pants as the Ukrainian military paused from frontline fighting in the east to hold a double wedding on Sunday.

Two young couples who met a few months earlier while serving in the army tied the knot on Sunday in the small town of Druzhkivka, 40 kilometers (25 miles) from frontline areas where Ukrainian forces are fighting invaders Russians.

The sun was shining and soldiers carried bouquets in a brief interlude after heavy fighting as the Russians intensified their efforts to push back Kyiv forces to the east.

One of the brides, Khrystyna Lyuta, a 23-year-old contract soldier with the rank of Private First Class, wore camouflage pants and army boots with a traditional red Ukrainian blouse embroidered with flowers.

“I got used to this uniform,” she explained of her outfit choice.

She met her husband Volodymyr Mykhalchuk, 28, just two months ago during his mobilization. They live about three miles apart in the same region of southwestern Vinnytsia but might never have met if it hadn’t been for the war.

“War is war, but life goes on,” Lyuta explained of their decision to marry.

“It was not a hasty decision,” Volodymyr said.

“The main thing is that we love each other and want to be together.”

The other bride, Kristina (unnamed), 23, who works in the signals corps, opted for a traditional long white dress with red folk embroidery to marry Vitaliy Orlich, also 23, a sniper. elite.

“I believe it’s about creating a new family — no matter where or how,” she said.

The grooms both wore soldiers’ uniforms.

The couples were to return to serve in the war zone the same day.

“I can’t give them free days as such. The only thing is that they won’t be on the front line, they will stay in the back,” the brigade commander told AFP. , Oleksandr Okhrimenko.

Neither couple had family present, but they said the parents had been understanding.

Kristina said her husband spoke to his mother online and “she already calls him a son.”

The soldiers were from the 14th Separate Mechanized Brigade, which has been fighting Russian-backed forces in Donbass since May.

The young couples were married in front of a civil status office, closed because of the war.

The quiet street had few cars and the occasional streetcar. Sandbags were piled up in front of the windows of cafes and shops.

‘There is no time’

The couples went through traditional rituals such as walking together on an embroidered towel, symbolizing unity.

The brigade chaplain gave them an Orthodox Christian blessing, waving holy water and placing wreaths on their heads, on the day of a major Church holiday, the feast of the Holy Trinity.

Priest in a khaki cassock, Yuriy Zdebskiy, told AFP that “this is the first wartime marriage in the brigade” since Russia launched its invasion on February 24.

“Now it is war and there is no time for big celebrations,” he said.

The commander of the infantry brigade, Okhrimenko, has the right to certify marriages under martial law.

He said the venue for the weddings “was chosen primarily for security reasons”.

Druzhkivka is about 40 kilometers as the crow flies from three fronts, as Russian troops threaten the cities of Sloviansk to the northeast, Bakhmut to the east and Horlivka to the southeast.

Hours later, AFP reporters heard shelling and saw smoke billowing as the two sides exchanged gunfire near Bakhmut.

Even in relatively intact Druzhkivka, shelling earlier this month destroyed private homes and slammed into the roof of a Baptist church on a street.

During the wedding, the air raid sirens went off three times, an AFP journalist learned.

None of the participants reacted. Many war-hardened locals now ignore warnings to go to shelters unless there is an obvious threat.

Comments are closed.