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Ukrainian couple reunited after nine months despite Russian attacks


Hanna Vavarenko had a joyful reunion with her husband at a Kyiv railway station on Friday, nine months after she fled to Germany to escape the war in Ukraine.

She and her son made it back to Ukraine in time for the traditional New Year festivities, despite a last-minute hitch when their train was held up at the town of Bucha outside Kyiv because of Russian air strikes.

“We found out that there was a massive attack when we were on the train and going through Bucha. Our train stopped right in Bucha,” Vavarenko, a 31-year-old children’s doctor, told Reuters at the station in Kyiv.

Struggling to control her emotions as she recalled her fears at that moment, she said: “It’s hard for me to describe those feelings, excuse me. Fear, despair, sorrow.”

Vavarenko sat resting her head on her husband’s shoulder as they waited for another train to complete her journey home to the northeastern city of Kharkiv.

Her husband, who did not give his name, has remained in Ukraine because young men cannot leave the country even if they are not fighting.

“All my friends in Germany and all our friends who stayed in Ukraine tried to dissuade us from this trip, but I haven’t seen my husband and father for nine months,” she said.

“It was very important for us to see each other, at least for this week. Our trip (home) lasts more than two days. But this is worth it.”

Vavarenko, will return with her son to Germany after the festive period, found her journey less frightening than the day of Russia’s invasion.

“I was more scared on the morning of February 24. This was the most terrifying for me, those feelings,” she said.

“We live in an area close to the border, that’s where everything began. We were one of the first to find out. This was much more frightening than today.”