Thursday, 13 December

Once their presence among the ranks of Ukrainian Armed Forces, or even more, at the front, seemed incredible and impossible for a lot of people. However, today they’ve changed civilian clothes to military uniforms, their high-heels became army boots. Those ladies stood up to defend their own country. Opinion gathered ten stories of Ukrainian defenders that they told in the framework of flash mob #підбориVSберці (heels VS army boots).

Natalia Borysovska: “I’m an ordinary girl at home, but soon I will return to the front”

“My service lasted from 2009 to 2017, from 2014 to 2016 I was constantly on the front, without rotation and returning to the places of permanent assignment. Together with my legendary 42nd battalion, we fulfilled missions in Kramatorsk, (Ilovaisk and Savur-Mohyla were without my physical presence), Debaltsevo, Vuhlehirsk, Toretsk-Zaitsevo, I was at Svitlodarsk Arc (Luhanske).

However, I also have a life outside the army. I love Tatar food, animals and friendly cheerful companies. I’m an ordinary girl at home, but soon I will return to the front. Throughout my military service, I am senior sergeant of the Armed Forces.”

Halyna Klempouz: “There’s no guarantee that I won’t return to the front soon. The war goes on»

“My service lasted from 2016 to 2018; also, from 2014 to 2016 I was a volunteer at the front. Together with my brothers and sisters in arms, we completed missions at Svitlodarsk Arc, under Chermalyk, Novoluhanske.

But, I have a life outside of the army. Like an ordinary girl, I like my high-heels and dresses, traveling and singing, but that’s all when I’m at home. There’s no guarantee that I won’t return to the front soon. The war goes on.”

Olena Bilozerska: “Before the war, I was a journalist, in 2014 I volunteered for the front”

Before the war I was a journalist, in 2014 I volunteered for the front. For 3 and half years, I fought in the Ukrainian Volunteer Corps of Right Sector (UVC RS) and Ukrainian Volunteer Army (Donetsk airport area, Volnovakha, Mariupol). Now I’m an officer of the Armed Forces, a commander of self-propelled gun’s platoon in the 503rd separate battalion of the Marine Corps.”

Katrusia Strila: “I respect people who took and take part in the war”

“I volunteered for the war in 2014. Until 2016 I was in the 5th separate battalion of UVC (UVA) – I was Assistant Chief of Staff, head of the Volunteer Division. Currently, I’m engaged in activities related to our combat units of the Ukrainian Volunteer Army and civic association “Yarosh State Initiative”. During the period of my stay in the battalion, I carried out the tasks and missions that were assigned to me by battalion’s command in Pisky, Vodiane, and Opytne. Now I am an officer of the reserve at the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

After coming back, your life goes on. I love my daughter, my kitty Mania, whom I brought from the war and the order in everything. I respect people who took and take part in the war as well as those who help the military and volunteers.”

Olena Mokrenchuk: “As soon as it was possible, I came to serve with my boys”

“I came from civilian life to the front, because my country was attacked. At first, I was a volunteer. I helped all the soldiers on our part of the front: Volnovakha, Mariupol, Amvrosiivka, Starobeshevo, Ilovaisk, Luzhky; Chervonopartyzansk and Sverdlovsk; in April-May of 2014 Sloviansk and everything next to it. Since September 2014 the main area was around Volnovakha – from Chermalyk, Hranitne, Starohnativka, Novohnativka to Mykolaivka and Novotroitskyi. I was working principally in the worst conditions: the knowledge of the area gave me a huge advantage in this job, and the desire to help our Defenders to protect us overcame any fears, helped to ignore the fear of shelling and the danger of long daily steppe rides.

Yes, I have never shot at the front. I didn’t live in the dugouts. My weapon was a laptop and camera, and my entire service and my volunteering went on a daily basis in the worst conditions: everything here is inseparable. I was captured, I was under the fire repeatedly, and I’ve lost my close friends… I serve as a press officer. Perhaps, now, this is my mission on this Earth – to tell the truth about our Heroes. I do this with great joy. However, I don’t know how to wear a dress. I forgot how to do it.”

Anastasia Sokolova: “A girl at home, at service – an officer of the Armed Forces of Ukraine”

“My service lasts for more than 2 years. Together with the best brigade in the world, we completed missions in Toretsk-Zaitseve, Svitlodarsk Arc, and Krymske-Novotoshkivske. However, I have a life outside of the army. I love spicy food, metal badges; also, I collect coloring books. While I’m an ordinary girl at home, at service, I’m an officer of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.”

Yulia Sydorova: “I am proud to be one of the female soldiers who defend Ukraine”

“I’ve never served in the Armed Forces, but I participate in hostilities as a volunteer. There are a lot of women among volunteers, so the upper mentioned statistics can be considered not complete. I am proud to be one of the female soldiers who defend Ukraine.

However, I don’t forget about my femininity. The war is not the main thing in my worldview. I love to travel, read, wear nice clothes and even high-heels, but when I have time and opportunity.

I’ve started my struggle since Maidan in 2013. Then there were three years spent in the medical battalion “Hospitaliery”. Last year I was working at the front in the 1st assault battalion of UVC RS, where we, together with Alina, who was mentioned above, have created our own medical service “ULF”. I plan to get to the end, that is, to the victory.”

Anastasia Podobailo “There is an unchanged desire to speak billions of words about love”

“Almost a year ago, I’ve changed my heels to army boots, dresses to the uniform, and a clutch to a medical backpack. Among my accessories are a helmet and a bulletproof vest. From that moment something has changed forever, something has become chronic. The only thing that has left unchanged forever is the desire to speak billions of words about love and to love this life even more.”

Anastasia Slobodianyk: “My soul is always with battalion”

“I’ve protected Ukraine since Maidan, since the crackdown on student protests. In 2015, I entered “Hospitaliery” of UVA, I was in the village of Shyrokino and in the city of Avdiivka. By the beginning of 2017, I was a part of the battalion. Now I am bringing up my own son. I am married. But my soul is always with the battalion.”

Viktoria Miroshnichenko: “I don’t stop my volunteering activities so far”

“My service lasted since 2014. I started as a volunteer, then as a paramedic. Since December 2015, I was already a part of “Luhansk-1” battalion. For health reasons, I had to retire in May 2018. However, I haven’t stopped my volunteering activities so far.”

Kateryna Chyslo: “Thanks to the war, I’ve found my family in every sense of the word”

“I’ve changed my high-heels to army boots in September 2015. It was Ukrainian Volunteer Corps of Right Sector. Changes took place not only in terms of shoes but in my whole life. Thanks to the war, I’ve found my family in every sense of the word. The war changed my habits, my view of life, destiny and future. I was the only girl in the unit, but this didn’t prevent me from feeling like a brother there. These were the best times.

As for my plans for the future, I want to choose a specialty and receive a military education. When my daughter grows up and if the war is still going on, then I definitely change my high-heels again. For all girls who are at the front line now, I wish success and strength to fight.”

To find out more about incredible women, who stood up to defend our country, look up for hashtag #підбориVSберці (#heelsVSarmyboots).

Stories were collected by Dmytro Zhuravel

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