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Some families in Ukraine are reunited during the New Year in the war

42-year-old Ukrainian serviceman Hemko happily receives his daughter and wife from a long absence, at Kiev Central Railway Station (December 31, 2022)
42-year-old Ukrainian serviceman Hemko happily receives his daughter and wife after a long absence, at Kiev Central Railway Station (December 31, 2022)

Millions of people in Ukraine face Russian bombing and a shortage of electricity and water, making it difficult to celebrate the New Year as it has in the past, but for some families who have been separated for months, it is an opportunity to reunite, no matter how briefly.

Mykyta, a Ukrainian serviceman, waited Saturday morning for his wife, Valeria, from Poland with pink roses in hand. The two haven’t seen each other for six months.

Vasyl Khomko, a 42-year-old soldier, happily welcomed his daughter Yana and his wife Galyna back to Kiev from Slovakia for the New Year.

Just 10 months ago, many wives, mothers, and daughters in Ukraine took a train to seek refuge abroad, leaving husbands, fathers, and sons to defend their country, and the world was moved by tearful farewells.

But many Ukrainians chose to return to Kiev on the last day of the year to spend the New Year with their families.

Russia continues to attack Ukraine’s power supply facilities, leaving millions without power, and curfews are still in many areas when the New Year’s bell strikes, and major celebrations are not expected to take place. But for most Ukrainians, being able to reunite with their families is already a luxury.

Many residents of Kiev are uneasy by the recent Russian attack and are uncertain whether the sky will be peaceful on the last day of the year.

Natalya Kontonenko, who rushed back from Finland, said, “We hope there will be no surprises today. She has not seen her brother since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, the first time the two have met since the war. Her brother and other relatives rushed from Nikolaev to Kiev to greet Natalia.

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Natalia’s brother said, “We don’t worry about electricity because we’re together and I think that’s the most important thing.

To allow residents to celebrate the New Year in bright light, the government of Odessa Oblast in western Ukraine plans to restrict jobs in the most energy-intensive industries on December 31 and January 1.

(This article is based on an Associated Press report.) 

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