In fact, Olena Bertsuk (30 years old) could have been at home in Ukraine and fighting against the invading Russian forces. In consultation with her husband, Pavlo Krasnomovets, they decide that the safest thing for their unborn son is for Olena to try to stay away from the war.
It was an ordinary night for a long time in the house of Olina and Pavlos, in their makeshift apartment on the outskirts of Kyiv. They were looking forward to the fact that only a few days passed before they moved into a newly renovated apartment in a nine-storey high-rise in the house in the capital.
– We got up early. The sound was unmistakable. They were bombs. Fortunately, Olina says, it’s not too close to our apartment.
“I was lucky”
Dagbladet meets Olena Pertsuk in Greenland in Oslo. Here I found peace after days of drama on the run.
– Although I know it is safe here in Oslo, I scream when I hear the sound of a helicopter – before I think clearly and understand that it is Russian helicopter gunships that are going to kill us.
Over a cup of coffee, Olina takes a deep breath, folds her hands around the pregnant belly that is protruding and says softly:
– I was lucky and fortunate enough to get to safety in Norway.
– The day after my landing in Gardermoen on the evening of Monday 7 March, I was at the doctor. The doctor said that everything is fine with the fetus. If all goes according to plan, I will be a mother for the first time on Monday 28th March at Ullevål Hospital.
When Olina and Buffalo woke up from the Russian bombs early in the morning on Thursday, February 24, they were ready for the Russians’ arrival.
– When the rumors of a Russian invasion started last fall, we didn’t believe them at first. But we eventually realized that Putin might be able to start a war. So we made some preparations.
An hour after the couple woke up, they packed what they needed, and got in the car to drive west.
– The fuel tank is full. But there was chaos on the main roads. Therefore, we chose to drive on smaller roads to get there faster. However, it went slowly. Kyiv to Vinnytsia is a distance of no more than 300 km. We spent over ten hours. Olena says, we stood for an hour and a half in line to fill up petrol.
About a 40-minute drive outside the center of Vinnytsia, the couple was lucky and a hotel room was booked.
– The lady at reception told us we were lucky, and that we got the last available room. Two hours later, some of our friends came to Vinnytsia. They had a newborn baby with them.
Despite the fact that all hotel rooms in Vinnytsia were rented, Olina and Pavlo eventually got a hotel room, only a few hundred meters from where they were supposed to spend the night.
– The next day we set off. The target was Kosev. There we learned that we had a hotel room waiting for us. Pavlo works as a journalist for Forbes magazine in Ukraine. Olena says the editorial staff had free rooms in a hotel, which we could use.
At the same time that Olina and Pavlo felt safe in Kosev, there was a fear of what might happen to the family and friends who remained in Kyiv.
At first, my father and mother did not want to leave Kyiv. Fortunately, they were able to get out after a few days. They have now also arrived at Kosiv, and are currently safe.
At first Olina had no intention of leaving Ukraine, but in the end she and her husband saw no other choice but to continue their journey.
– Buffalo has an older brother – Petro – who lives in Oslo. Five years ago, Buffalo and I visited him. So we agreed that Oslo and Norway would be the right place.
crossed the border
The new law of war means that men between the ages of 18 and 60 are not allowed to leave Ukraine. We knew it, but since I was pregnant, we decided to give it a try. But when we got to the border with Romania, we got a clear message that Buffalo was not allowed to travel.
Bye A few meters from the border station of Porobny, Olina and Buffalo said goodbye.
It was painful and at the same time very strange. We were looking forward to giving birth together. Learning that Buffalo was not allowed to join was heart-wrenching. I got many big, good hugs, before I started crossing the border into Romania.
After several hours at sea, Olena reached safety in the Romanian border town of Seret.
– She was very well received by the volunteers. They offered me and the other refugees hot drinks, and they were very nice.
The only thing that amazed Olena was an unknown man who offered her leadership.
– It wasn’t a volunteer. I don’t know if he had evil plans, or if he was just a guy who would be kind and helpful. Anyway, I said no and got help from volunteers to get to the train station in Siirt.
Too pregnant on the plane
From the small border town, Olina took the train to Iai, where there are flights to several European cities – including Warsaw.
– Via Facebook, I contacted a woman who offered me a bed to sleep in, in Iai, a larger city on the border with Moldova.
After a few hours on the train, Olina reached the city.
– I was very well taken care of there. The next day, Sunday March 6, I took my test and it was determined that I did not have corona. With the new Corona passport, I have to be on the plane to Warsaw.
Despite the fact that Olina is heavily pregnant, and is due to give birth at the end of March, there were no questions when she boarded a Boeing 737-800 bound for Poland.
– I was only in Poland for two hours, before I got on a new plane – an Embraer 195 that was going to Oslo.
in the reception of brother-in-law
On the plane from Warsaw to Oslo, Olina was not the only refugee from Ukraine.
– In the seat next to me sat a woman of the same age from Ukraine. as she ran away. Olina says there were many other people who spoke Ukrainian on the ship.
After receiving a brief briefing from a female police officer at the airport, I was finally able to embark on the final part of the journey.
Pietro – Buffalo’s brother – who has lived in Oslo for more than 10 years – was waiting in the arrival hall in Gardermoen.
– I was so tired, it was a long trip. The next day, Tuesday, March 8, Lee Petro and his wife, Tanya, arranged a medical appointment. Fortunately, everything was fine with the fetus.
Will return to Kyiv
Every day since Olina left Ukraine, she has been talking and talking with her husband and parents in Ukraine.
– Obviously, I’m worried and worried about what might happen. Fortunately, Buffalo and my parents are still safe. Olena says thoughtfully, but we don’t know what could happen.
– I hope Buffalo will come to Oslo in a few weeks. So he can meet his son.
In recent days, Olina has also been in contact with neighbors at home in the building located in Kyiv.
Fortunately, no bombs or grenades fell on our building. We are almost done with the renovation. Olena says now, I just hope our chest won’t be hit.
The brother-in-law of Petro Krasnomovets, who runs an IT company in Norway, promises that he will support Olina and other Ukrainians who have to flee, and try to help them get a job in Norway.
Olina does not hide what she thinks about President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin regime. At the same time, it does not want to absolve the Russian people of its responsibility.
Every Russian is responsible for what happens. They let the tyrants rule, and they are responsible for the actions of the authorities.
Anyway, we will never give up. We hope that the Russians will surrender and withdraw. Then I will go home and help rebuild Ukraine.
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