"It's the happiest moment of your life, and you go out, and you hear that."
It was not the cozy, picturesque wedding they'd been planning.
Yaryna Arieva and her partner Sviatoslav Fursin were originally due to tie the knot on May 6 and celebrate their union at a restaurant with a "very, very cute terrace" overlooking the Dnieper river, Arieva told CNN. "Just us and the river and beautiful lights," the 21-year-old said. However, all that changed when Russia launched a devastating attack on Ukraine early Thursday. As Russian forces attacked the country from three sides, Arieva and Fursin rushed to Kyiv's St Michael’s monastery to get married even as the sound of air raid sirens rang in their ears.
"That was very scary," said Arieva, a deputy on the Kyiv City Council. "It's the happiest moment of your life, and you go out, and you hear that." Invading Russian troops began its assault on the European democracy of 44 million people hours before dawn on Thursday with a series of missile attacks. It soon spread across central and eastern Ukraine as President Vladimir Putin said he had "decided to conduct a special military operation" aimed at the "demilitarization and denazification" of the neighboring nation, reports CBS News. His invasion pummeled Ukraine by air, land, and sea, despite Putin claiming his plans did "not include an occupation" of the country.
Ukrainian officials said that multiple missile strikes hit Kyiv early Friday. "They say that civilian objects are not a target for them. It is a lie, they do not distinguish in which areas to operate," Ukraine's president said of Russia.— The New York Times (@nytimes) February 25, 2022
Follow updates. https://t.co/GxrASRMiJf pic.twitter.com/4BGHxZyEa3
Arieva and Fursin (24), who met in October 2019 at a protest in the center of Kyiv, said they decided to get married immediately because they were not sure what their future held. "The situation is hard. We are going to fight for our land," said Arieva. "We maybe can die, and we just wanted to be together before all of that." After their wedding, the newlyweds prepared to go to the local Territorial Defense Center to join efforts to help defend their motherland. "We have to protect it. We have to protect the people we love and the land we live on," she said. "I hope for the best, but I do what I can to protect my land."
Yaryna Arieva e o companheiro Sviatoslav Fursin confessam que, aquilo que “devia ser o momento mais feliz das suas vidas“, acabou por ser um dia “muito assustador“ https://t.co/O2ARfecXC4— CNN Portugal (@cnnportugal) February 25, 2022
Arieva wasn't sure what task she and her husband—who is a software engineer—will be assigned. "Maybe they will just give us armor and we will go and fight. Maybe we will help with something else. They will decide,” she said. Arieva described Fursin as her "closest friend on the Earth" and expressed hope that they will be able to celebrate their marriage one day. "Maybe they (Russia) will just get out from our country and we will have an ability to celebrate normally," she said. "I just hope that everything will go normal and we will have our land, we will have our country safe and happy without any Russians in it."
Representative Cover Image Source: Getty Images/Serhii Sobolevskyi