Ukraine buries young soldier who planned to marry

·1-min read
Funeral of Ukrainian servicemen Hirniak, Zabavchuk and Kovalov in Lviv

By Andriy Perun

LVIV, Ukraine (Reuters) - Ukrainian soldier Mykola Zabavchuk planned to marry his girlfriend when he next returned home from the war against Russia, but never made it back.

Zabavchuk, who was 25, and two other soldiers were buried in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on Tuesday after being killed in action.

"He was a very good boyfriend, a sincere one. He loved and took care of me very much. He was very devoted to me and to his friends," his fiancee Oleksandra told Reuters at the funeral.

"Before his departure, he proposed. We planned a wedding after the rotation. It was not destined (to come true)."

At the funeral, a uniformed soldier held a portrait of Zabavchuk, smiling and cradling a dog under his right arm.

"We have a little dog Arei. It is in the picture. I will foster it, take care of it – he wanted this very much. He called it his son, (and) so it is."

Led by one soldier carrying a cross and another holding the blue and yellow Ukrainian flag, mourners formed a procession behind Zabavchuk's coffin and those of two other soldiers.

Zabavchuk had planned a career in IT (information technologies) after graduating from Lviv Polytechnic National University. He fought with a territorial defence brigade.

"He volunteered for a ‘military operation’ as they (Russians) call it but which is a war against the Ukrainian nation," said his father, also called Mykola Zabavchuk.

"His callsign was ‘Bilyi’ (‘White’), so everybody called him honest, frank, and decent," he said.

The Kremlin says it is engaged in a "special military operation" to demilitarise and "denazify" Ukraine. Kyiv and Western nations say the war is an unprovoked act of aggression.

(Writing by Timothy Heritage; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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