A Ukrainian military doctor has become engaged to a soldier she served with, their commander said Thursday, a day after she was released from nearly two years as a prisoner of Russia.
The couple was reunited when Ukraine and Russia announced Wednesday they had exchanged more than 200 soldiers each in the biggest prisoner swap since the war began.
Viral video on social media showed ex-prisoner of war Galyna Fedychyn kissing her fiance Mykola Gritsenyak after he proposed to her, ring and gigantic bouquet of red roses in hand.
“This love has survived trials that can break the strongest,” said Sergiy Volynsky, code-named “Volyna,” who commanded the 36th Separate Marine Brigade during the siege of Mariupol.
“They fought together in the battle for Mariupol, endured the ordeal of captivity and a long separation, but their hearts never stopped beating in unison,” he added.
The city of Mariupol on the Azov Sea fell to Russian forces after being virtually razed in a month-long siege in spring 2022 and has since been occupied by the Russian army.
The defenders of Mariupol – in particular those of the 36th Separate Marine Brigade who were entrenched in the Azovstal steel plant and resisted Russian fire for weeks – are regarded as heroes in Ukraine.
Fedychyn had been detained since spring 2022 and, according to her fiancé, was the last woman from the 36th Separate Marine Brigade still held by the Russian army.
“In captivity, she spoke Ukrainian as a matter of principle,” the Ukrainian General Staff said on Wednesday, referring to the 36th's doctor without naming her.
“The Russians made several mock preparations for an exchange, only to return her to custody,” it added.
The 36th said on its Facebook page that its marines were awaiting medical treatment, describing the conditions of Russian captivity as “inhumane.
“Ukrainian presidential aide Andriy Yermak sent his congratulations to the couple on X, formerly Twitter.
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