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Ukraine war: Women fighting on the front lines

For more than a year, women have been fighting on the front lines war in Ukraine they did it without proper equipment, says the Ukrainian charity.

February 24, 2022 About 60,000 women have joined the fight against Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, the Zemlyachki Foundation, which helps female soldiers on the front lines, told

Their military uniforms don’t fit right, their helmets cover their eyes when they slide off their heads, and their boots are too big.

“The most important thing is the military uniform,” Karina, Ukraine’s frontline deputy commander, said in an email to “The uniforms given are not always the right size, and as it gets cold, you have to dress in warm and quality clothes.”

Access to menstrual products is another difficulty these women face. Pads and tampons are hard to come by and even harder to change when the bathroom is a hole in the ground.

For three women who emailed, the honor of serving their country in a time of need far outweighs the challenges of daily life on the front lines.

To protect their families, has agreed to withhold the women’s last names. The quotes below are taken from emails, edited for clarity and translated from Ukrainian.


“I got here by accident, but now I can’t imagine myself anywhere else,” Veronica told (Input)

The moment when the war seemed real to Veronika was when she was handed a grenade after the Russians broke through the Ukrainian defense line.

“This is instead of captivity,” they told him.

The 26-year-old was born in Dnipro and lived in Kiev when the war started. He had just finished his internship and was going to become an anesthesiologist.

Every morning, she started her day with a cappuccino in a “beautiful cafe,” she told However, working on the front lines as a combat medic, Veronica’s morning ritual looks very different.

“Instead of a nice cup of coffee shop cappuccino, I drink instant coffee if I’m lucky, even with cream or milk,” he said.

Veronika works in the Azov division of the artillery unit in the eastern part of Ukraine.

“I help soldiers in the field and send them to the hospital if necessary, I teach the basics of tactical medicine,” he said. “That’s why I went to study as an anesthesiologist, because I like situations where you have to make a quick decision.”

His decision-making skills were needed when he was called to the battlefield to help a wounded soldier with a suspected broken neck.

“I ran to him on a stretcher, put a collar on him, and he was quickly taken to the hospital,” Veronika said. “I talked to him all the way, he asked if his hand was moving, I said: there is a little, come on, you can, although there was no movement at all.

Every day is different for Veronica, but she says she tries to “find happiness in the little things.”

A young Ukrainian soldier is stationed outside the battlefield waiting to be called for evacuation and treatment. He was lucky enough to have an outdoor shower and a hot meal prepared by nearby volunteers.

KARINA: “I was afraid, but I was successful.”

“The 2014 (Crimea) war prompted me to join the armed forces because my home was on the demarcation line,” Karina said. (Contributed by)

For Karina, the reality of war is very different. He was fighting in the Ukrainian army after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.

“I’ve been here for a year without a shift, I miss hot water and a regular toilet more than anything,” she told in an email.

Karina, 26, is the deputy commander of her unit, which moves around a lot during the war. The battery, made up of 48 men and two women, builds everything from showers, toilets and sleeping quarters.

Each time the group moves, they leave the structures and start over.

Kareena said she has adjusted to her new reality, but still struggles with taking care of herself. Cystitis, an inflammation of the bladder often caused by a bladder infection or an untreated urinary tract infection, is common among his friends, he says.

The helmets given to women are “3 sizes bigger” and the underwear they wear is for men.

Karina joined the division when she was 23 years old. The unit commander left shortly after, leaving him in charge of about 50 men.

“I was afraid, but I managed. I am respected and obeyed,” he said.

Her main job is to tell loved ones of soldiers when they have been killed.

“It’s hard, and I have to find strength, compassion and sensitivity,” she said.

In August, Karina had to make a difficult phone call to the family of a 23-year-old soldier.

“I called her dad, he didn’t believe me at first,” Karina said. “There’s a deep pause and it hurts a lot, it’s terrible. Because you understand what the person on the other end feels.”

Karina finds motivation from her unit, whom she calls her second family. The soldiers working with him are all very different, he says, but still sincere, friendly, bright and cheerful.

He looks to the future and imagines how he will buy a new house after the war, because on March 15, 2022, his house was destroyed.


“I worked, studied, walked around the city with friends and enjoyed life. And from February 24 (2022), I immediately started helping, first, the civilians in his area, I looked in the cellars and bought food,” Lisa said. (Contributed by)

In another unit, Lisa, a 21-year-old artilleryman, says she’s lucky to have hot water.

“There is a lack of light, water, heat, internet,” Lisa told in an email. “The toilet is a dug hole, and the shower is water heated over a fire, often there is no place to wash.”

When she’s in the field, she packs pads, tampons and pain medication in case she’s away from camp for a while.

“At first, my fellow soldiers offered me something sweet during menstruation, but I said that I don’t eat sweets, now they bring me pickles and tomatoes,” he said.

The winter was very cold. Lisa wears four pairs of socks and sleeps under four summer sleeping bags at night.

He lived in the eastern district of Mariupol. One of the first areas of Ukraine to be shelled. On February 24, 2022, Lisa was awakened by an explosion at 5 a.m. local time and immediately contacted her boyfriend, who works in the military.

He had joined the force in April and knew he wanted to work with mortars, following in his friend’s footsteps. He finds motivation from friends in Azov (a small town north of Mariupol), who instilled in him a love for their country and books.

“Now, many of them died defending my hometown,” Lisa said. “The Russians destroyed my hometown, killed many civilians, destroyed my life until now. They are killing children, women (and) committing genocide against my nation every day.”

“And who, if not us, should stop them?” he said.


“Zemlyachki” was formed a month after the start of the war and published its first Instagram story featuring a female soldier.

“Mental health is actually so important because we deal with 7,000 female soldiers, and it was pretty clear to us that they all need this mental support,” said Andriy Kolesnik, co-founder of Zemlyachki. “It’s not like you join the army and train somewhere. It’s actually war and all the tragic and horrible things that you’re bound to encounter and experience and all these deaths, all these murders… It scars you. your mental health.”

The organization was founded by Kolesnik and Ksenia Draganiuk, both of whom have ties to helping women, particularly in the military. Kolesnik’s younger sister and her husband enlisted shortly before the war began.

Draganyuk was a former TV journalist who covered the stories of women across Ukraine working in male-dominated fields such as firefighters, police or pilots.

“So we decided to combine the idea of ​​helping and the idea of ​​her (Draganiuk’s) show before the war, and we wanted to tell stories about women at the front,” Kolesnik said.

Through short questionnaires, the couple was able to understand who the women on the front lines are and what they need. The organization began sending packages of necessities to soldiers, such as menstrual products, food and messages of encouragement.

At first, Zelmiacki sent about 40 packages a month, but now it has increased to 50 to 100 packages a day.

“We don’t send the equipment just based on our thoughts, in each box there are specific things that we know a specific person needs,” Draganyuk said in Ukrainian. “We also send them like little things to keep their morale up, to let them know there are people out there who care about them.”

As the charity grew, so did the demand for special equipment and uniforms for women. The organization, with a team of 11, cares for thousands of female soldiers and their needs. The demand is constant as the war continues.

With the help of partners around the world, Zemlyachki began sending women military gear that fits them in July.

“Not only did the society not expect that so many women would go to the army (and) the government also did not expect that so many women would go to the army, that’s why it simply did not have the opportunity to prepare with women’s uniforms.” , smaller-sized shoes with similar lighter equipment,” Kolesnick said. “That’s why we exist.”

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