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War could not stop Lesia Ivashchenko and Valerii Fylymonov from getting married on Sunday, as the pair tied the knot at the barricades in Kyiv.
The pair has been together for 22 years and has an 18-year-old daughter, but decided to finally formalise their relationship with the ceremony on the Ukrainian capital’s defence line.
“We decided — who knows what will happen tomorrow — we should get married in front of the state, in front of God. And we have an adult daughter, and I think she’s happy that we finally did it,” Lesia said after the ceremony.
She left her job when the war with Russia started and joined territorial defence forces to defend her district on the outskirts of Kyiv.
Lesia had not seen Valerii since the beginning of the Russian military operation until they were reunited for the ceremony on Sunday, as they were sent to different areas.
“I’m happy that we are alive, that this day started, that my husband is alive, and he is with me,” she said after the wedding ceremony right on the defensive line in Kyiv.
“We are determined to push back the enemy and take back our lands and win,” said the happy bride.
“I expected to have a very modest ceremony. I thought we’ll just, will say ‘yes' to each other. It was a surprise from my brothers in arms and our commanders that they decided to set it up to show that despite everything we believe in future and life is going on,” she said.
Former WBO heavyweight boxer and Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko, as well as his brother boxer Wladimir, came to congratulate the newly-weds.
The pair aren’t the first to tie the knot. On Friday, Dmytro Shybalov and Anna Panasiuk set aside their worries over Russia’s attacks and got married at the city’s civil registration office.
They met seven years ago in Donetsk, in the middle of the conflict between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian government forces.
Less than two months before Russian troops entered Ukraine last month, Dmytro proposed to Anna.
They planned to marry during the summer but brought their plans forward, believing they wouldn’t get a better opportunity later.
“Who knows what will be next, so we decided to do it now,” said Dmytro.
The newly-married couple work as volunteers for civil organisations and plan to stay in Kyiv despite Russia’s advance towards the capital.
More than 1.5 million people have now fled Ukraine since the fighting started on February 24.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a warning that the continuing resistance is putting Ukrainian statehood in jeopardy and compared the West’s sanctions on Russia to “declaring war “.
Shelling has been growing more intense in recent days as Russian forces seek to break defensive lines and seize major cities. Two attempts at humanitarian ceasefires at the weekend to allow civilians and the wounded to flee the port city of Mariupol failed as fighting raged.