Conflicts & War

Ukraine’s mothers brought together by the horrors of war

By Luis Ángel Reglero

Dnipro, Ukraine, Jun 8 (EFE).- Both Olena and Olga’s sons have fought in Ukraine’s war against Russia, but only one has survived.

Together they go to where Olena’s son Dmytro has been buried in the Dnipro cemetery, which has become a sea of earth graves with wooden crosses.

Some graves remain unidentified, others are adorned with flower crowns, others appear more disheveled and uncared for.

The men and women who have died in combat or in Russian attacks have started to fill the cemetery that also harbors the bodies of those who were killed during the 2014 Donbas conflict, in eastern Ukraine.


Dmytro, 26, died in combat in the Donetsk area while fighting with the 98th battalion of Ukraine’s territorial defense forces, Olena, 46, tells Efe.

Dmytro and Mykyta, Olga’s son, were one of the many young men and women who enlisted with the army as volunteers when Russia invaded on February 24.

“It was his decision, and he was not afraid,” forty-six-year-old Olena recalls, adding that her son was determined to defend their homeland.

“If we don’t go, who will defend us?” Olena remembers Dmytro asking her before leaving for battle.

Mykyta and other soldiers on the front line tried to help Dmytro when he was injured in a missile attack, but a series of “cluster bombs” were dropped on them soon after and he was struck in the head, says Olena.

The two young men worked at a brewery in Dnipro and joined the armed forces with three other friends.

Dmytro was posthumously awarded a medal by president Volodymyr Zelenskyy and named a “hero” of Ukraine.

It is the highest honor that a Ukrainian can receive, his mother says proudly.


Olga muses about the paradox of war. Her husband trained as a soldier in Russia and now Ukraine is fighting its neighbor, she says.

The 54-year-old woman says her children were together during the battle, accompanied by the other three friends.

She says the men went to battle after receiving “good military training” in Dnipro, an industrial city with a population of one million in southeastern Ukraine.

They were “taught to fight” and learned to attack tanks with grenade launchers, she adds.

The four friends “never abandoned him (Dmytro),” Olga adds.

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