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Young Ukrainian couple married early when Russia invaded; now, they're fighting for freedom


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A young Ukrainian couple has become a symbol of love and strength for the country after they decided to get married three months before their planned wedding in May when Russia began invading their homeland.

Yaryna Arieva, a 21-year-old woman wise beyond her years, told Fox News Digital that she and her 24-year-old husband, Sviatoslav Fursin, discussed getting “married in the first days of the war” if Putin invaded, but they didn’t “really believe” it would happen. 

When the attacks began, her mother called around to the priests she knew in the area and got one to marry the couple without an official marriage certificate, which is very unusual in Ukraine, but the priest agreed due to unforeseen circumstances.

“The hardest two days of my life [were in] the beginning of the war,” Arieva told Fox News Digital, but since then, she and other Ukrainians have grown more accustomed to the sounds of explosions and news of attacks on TV.

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Arieva and Fursin joined Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces immediately after their wedding. The couple is based in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s main target, as it houses Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. A convoy of Russian military vehicles has been stalled outside the city for several days as Putin plans a government takeover.

Meanwhile, Russia has been targeting the capital with missile strikes. Arieva described two massive explosions that struck the city on Wednesday — one that woke her at 1:30 a.m. and lit up her room as if it were daytime.

Yaryna Arieva and her husband, Sviatoslav Fursin. (Credit: Yayna Arieva)

Yaryna Arieva and her husband, Sviatoslav Fursin. (Credit: Yayna Arieva)

She hasn’t left shelter for seven days and said civilians who are not actively fighting need a secret passcode to go outside for their own protection. 

Her husband was on a combat mission with the Territorial Defense Forces on Thursday when she spoke to Fox News Digital. The forces are on the second lines, assisting the Armed Forces of Ukraine in their efforts to push back against Russian military forces out of Kyiv.

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“He was completely, extremely exhausted after the last mission,” Arieva said. “[H]e just couldn’t find normal words to describe what he wants and what he thinks, and it was awful. He didn’t sleep for two days…but he has been [in shelter] for three days, and he had a chance to take a rest a little bit. So, it was better for him…when he was taken to the next mission.”

Sviatoslav Fursin. (Credit: Yayna Arieva)

Sviatoslav Fursin. (Credit: Yayna Arieva)

She added that Fursin is “the second commander of his group” of about 15 soldiers despite not having “a lot of military experience” because “his father and his father-in-law were soldiers, and they have told him some things.”

“He is very, physically, very strong, and he loves sports, and he has some knowledge about armor, so he was one of the best in his group,” Arieva explained.

While Kyiv remains intact even as it is bombarded with missile attacks, southern cities are struggling more to fight off the Russian military. Kherson, a strategically important city located near the Black Sea, fell Wednesday evening to Russian forces, becoming the first major city to fall since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine last week.

A building burns after shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, March 3, 2022. Russia has launched a wide-ranging attack on Ukraine, hitting cities and bases with airstrikes or shelling. 

A building burns after shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, March 3, 2022. Russia has launched a wide-ranging attack on Ukraine, hitting cities and bases with airstrikes or shelling. 
((AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky))

But Arieva and Fursin are optimistic for Ukraine’s future.

“People here are absolutely sure that we will win,” she said. “It’s just the question of time. And also we are laughing at Russians. We are making jokes, telling anecdotes — not only about Russians but about [the] situation,” she told Fox News Digital.

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She described Russians as “very aggressive” and “furious” about Ukraine’s strong opposition. 

Arieva is a deputy city council member for Ukraine’s European Solidarity party, which has expressed opposition to some of Zelenskyy’s policies and the Servant of the People party, but the 21-year-old woman said she can look past that opposition now.

“We had a lot of political arguments with…the Servant of the People party, so I didn’t really appreciate his politics, but right now, I have no right to criticize him, and he is doing his best. He is protecting our country, he’s doing his job, and he is really good at doing his job. So it’s not time for some political intrigues…and I support him as a president of my country,” she said.

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Rather than honeymooning in the Maldives or Italy once the war is over, Arieva wants to smoke cigarettes, finish renovating her flat and “start a new family life” that is “calm and happy.”

“And maybe, sometime, having children when I am 30 or 35, but not right now when Russia still exists on the world map,” she said.

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