Kateryna Halushka is a military paramedic based in Kyiv, Ukraine. Marie Claire's Features Editor Jenny Proudfoot interviewed Kateryna from the frontline. This is her story.
“Our war began in 2014,” Kateryna explained to Marie Claire from the frontline. “At that time I was too young and only felt fear, because I did not know what would happen next. I came under my first shelling in 2018 during a humanitarian mission. Then real war began for me. I was scared and I didn’t like the fear. So I swore that I would become strong and brave, take up arms or become a paramedic.
“I chose never to be afraid of the enemy again – this thought allowed me to come to the forefront with a clear head and a strong awareness of my tasks,” she continued. “When, at 4am on 24 February 2022, my friends from Dobas called and said, ‘Katya, the war is already in Kyiv,’ I calmly packed up, called my family, and said, ‘It’s started’. I knew where I had to go and what I had to do. I was ready for this.
“I have two areas of employment,” Kateryna explained of her role on the frontline. “I am a military paramedic with experience. Before this I was in Donbass for two years with the volunteer battalion ‘Hospitalliers’. And I am also a specialist in strategic communications in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, so I am engaged in the war on the information front and do everything possible to make the world hear the voice of Ukraine.
“I have only one country and I love her,” Kateryna insisted when asked why she chose to stay and fight for her country. “Everything is here – my friends, my family, my history and my roots. I would not be able to leave Ukraine and escape from everything that is dear to me. In addition, I value freedom and resilience. This country gives me these important things and they are worth fighting for.
“All the people close to me are in Ukraine,” Kateryna continued. “My family remains in a safe area. My friends and acquaintances work on the frontlines as military or paramedics, and some are volunteers who help provide for the defence forces. I call them several times a day to ask how they are doing. But unfortunately, I now have no contact with some because they are in the East and in cities where the enemy has blown up communication and electricity lines.
“The reality of life in Ukraine right now is daily shelling from the sky, hourly alarm in different cities and thousands of civilian refugees. But at the same time, our reality is a momentary struggle. Our people are extremely strong and unbreakable. We have been defending for 11 days, although no one believed that we would last three. But we strike at the enemy, we destroy his equipment every day and repel attacks. No big city has come under enemy control because Ukrainians are ready to fight for victory. We work tirelessly in all areas and on all fronts. The enemy is demoralized, the Russian occupation forces are frightened by our courage. The whole world sees my country bravely defending itself. Today our reality is war and the struggle for the right to live in a free country. Very soon our reality will be the return of all territories of Ukraine and victory – I believe in that.
“Now the whole world must see the war in Ukraine,” Kateryna insisted. “We need support and help. We need the world to finally stop being afraid of Russia. My courageous people are repelling them, and others must finally understand that Putin’s army is not as victorious as they thought. And most importantly, the world must close the sky over Ukraine, otherwise it will see the bodies of children and bloodied civilians every day. Is the world ready to take responsibility for this?
“We are grateful for the support and financial assistance that we have now. We are grateful to those volunteers who come to help. It adds strength and faith. The world is capable of influencing the course of events, and if we now come together shoulder to shoulder, we will all have a world without war, a world that will live in peace and develop.
“I am incredibly proud of my people,” Kateryna enthused. “When I see footage of men with bare hands stopping tanks and armoured personnel carriers. When I see women working tirelessly to provide defence forces. When I see children smiling and wishing us victory. I see a nation that cannot be broken and brought to its knees. The strength of the civilians behind us is my main motivation to continue the struggle and believe in victory.”
She continued: “My president, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, General Valery Zaluzhny, and all the other leaders of my country are amazing people. They have taken responsibility for the lives of millions of citizens and are doing tremendous things to protect our country, to call on the international community to support us. They are not just headmen, they are leaders, and I am proud that together with them we are defending our state.
When asked what message she wants to share with people around the world, Kateryna replied: “Do not be afraid of Russia – they have already lost, because the whole world sees their real face. Support Ukraine – we are now the shield and sword of the civilized world from the aggression of the insidious occupier. And close the skies over Ukraine – it will save thousands of civilian lives.
“The United Kingdom has been helping us for the last six months,” she continued. “Weapons, funds and support in the international arena are helping us a lot right now. The Royal Marines who have recently arrived in Ukraine are an indication that Britain is with us. Please do not stop this support. We also ask for help from our women and children who have been forced to leave the country and are seeking temporary shelter.
“After the victory, we will be glad to see the British as guests,” Kateryna concluded before returning to duties on the frontline. “Because love and friendship always defeat evil.”
Here’s how you can support people in Ukraine right now.
Please donate to Save the Children’s Ukraine appeal to help support the 7.5 million children in Ukraine who are now in danger.