First Thing, Daily Maverick's flagship newsletter

Join the 230 000 South Africans who read First Thing newsletter.

We write for you

It’s a public service and we refuse to erect a paywall and force you to pay for truth. Instead, we ask (nicely and often) that those of you who can afford to, become a Maverick Insider and help with whatever you can. In order for truth not to become a thing of the past, we need to keep going.

Currently, 18,000 (or less than 0.3%) of our brave and generous readers are members; which says a lot about their characters and commitment to our country. These people are paying for a free service in order to keep it free for everyone.

They are the true South AfriCANs.(Sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves.)

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

Ukrainian women making military history

Defend Truth

Opinionista

Women sacrifice stardom to take up arms in defence of Ukraine against Putin’s troops

mm

Liubov Abravitova is the Ambassador of Ukraine to South Africa.

Last week I told you about three extraordinary women who are fighting for our freedom, the future of our children, for all of us in Ukraine. It is rather humbling seeing so many females on the battlefield risking their lives on a daily, hourly basis to rid this planet of Russian fascism.

Ukrainian women have been sacrificing and passionately fighting for their freedom and their country for a very long time. There were hundreds of thousands of women fighting against Nazi Germany in WW2 and history states that they were real fighters, fighting alongside men as hard as men.

Women participated in every single military event and confrontation throughout history and we are clearly seeing that their pride, strength, will, and love for their country have only blossomed over the years. Today, 37,000 brave women are serving in our military, with 16,000 serving in active duty, and more than 1,000 of them are in command. It’s one-fifth of our army and it’s a rather impressive number. If you count every woman paramedic, activist, volunteer, and those who are donating to the needs of our army on a regular basis you will see millions of women serving our country today making military history. In my last blog, I talked about three of our women heroes working for the volunteer paramedics group “Hospitallers”, an unbelievable organisation that has been responsible for saving thousands of lives in Ukraine since 2014 when Russia started its bloody attack on Ukraine.

Today I have two more stories of amazing strength and will for you. Fearless female soldiers are defiantly transforming our military and I’m honoured to share more stories of unbelievable Ukrainian women, who we respect, love, pray for and to whom we are forever grateful.

Meet Olesya Vorotnyuk

(Photo: Olesya Vorotnyuk / Instagram)

Olesya Vorotnyuk is a famous ballerina in Ukraine who recently made a decision to trade her pointe shoes for military boots to defend our country against Russian invaders. Olesya has shone bright on the stage of the National Opera of Ukraine since 2009. Her performances as Lady in Black in Bolero by Ravel, Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet, and in Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and many others were inspirational. Until the war broke out Olesya travelled with Operas Troupe and performed on a mesmerising stage in Japan, Canada, Germany, and Italy. In 2015 she got an additional diploma with honours and is now also a director for classical ballet.

Olesya Vorotnyuk, celebrated Ukrainian ballerina who has taken up arms for her country. (Source: Instagram)

Russia’s aggression against the Ukrainian people ruined Olesya’s world long before the war began. Olesya’s husband with whom she has a beautiful son was killed by Russians in the East of Ukraine, where the war conflict was active since 2014. Thus, when full-scale invasion began in the early morning of February 24, Olesya made a firm decision to defend her country by picking up weapons and joining Kyiv Territorial Defence.

“I knew that I had to do something, but I didn’t know what. Though I could shoot – that’s a hobby of mine. Furthermore, I was also sure that if a full-scale war broke out I would not leave my country. I would fight”.

In February Olesya joined Kyiv’s territorial defence, served on block posts and helped with evacuation from places around Kyiv where active warfare took place in the first month of Russia’s war against Ukraine. Olesya enlisted in the army and is waiting to be conscripted at any time.

Meanwhile, the ballerina went back to the National Opera and is now training to perform in Josef Strauss’s The Dragonfly. She holds a firm belief that her ballerina profession is quite similar to her military service – both call for dedication and discipline.

Meet Ganna Vasyuk  

(Photo: svetoch_ann_strongwoman / Instagram)

Ganna Vasyuk, a famous 27-year-old strongwoman, is now defending her country in the armed forces of Ukraine. Before the war began Ganna was a famous Ukrainian athlete who took part in a lot of unbelievable competitions and record-setting events. In her early twenties, Ganna hauled Kamaz trucks and airplanes. She actually lifted a 64kg dumbbell over her head with a single hand and became the absolute champion in Ukraine.

That amazing and exciting life ended, as it did for all of us, on a cold morning in February. Ganna didn’t hesitate for a second – she enrolled in the military and is now serving her country and volunteering in her spare time in one of the most dangerous places in Ukraine, Kharkiv.

(Photo: svetoch_ann_strongwoman / Instagram)

Kharkiv is a huge inspiration to all of us: all of Ukraine sees them as a city of true heroes. Kharkivans are bombed every day, they live in the second most shelled city in Ukraine. The first is Mariupol and it is now nonexistent: 90% of the city is destroyed. Though, most Kharkiv citizens say that “Russian fascists can bomb us for as long as they want: we will prevail,” and we all know they will. As you can imagine, serving and volunteering in Kharkiv is extremely dangerous, but Ganna decided it is where she is needed the most. DM

Gallery

Comments - share your knowledge and experience

Please note you must be a Maverick Insider to comment. Sign up here or sign in if you are already an Insider.

Everybody has an opinion but not everyone has the knowledge and the experience to contribute meaningfully to a discussion. That’s what we want from our members. Help us learn with your expertise and insights on articles that we publish. We encourage different, respectful viewpoints to further our understanding of the world. View our comments policy here.

No Comments, yet

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted