Stage 5: Ukraine border

Today we traveled to Chernivtsi in the Ukrainian part of Bukovina – a country that has been at war since 2014 and was invaded by Russian troops in February of this year, which it continues to oppose with determination. The landscape of Bukovina may be the same here as it is in Romania, but the everyday lives of its people could not be more different.

At the border from Romania into Ukraine, we are probably the only non-Ukrainians. While we are waiting for the border officials to check us, we are approached by Katja. Visibly puzzled, she asks what we are up to. She herself fled from her home village near Kiev in March to join her daughter in London. Now she is returning to her homeland for the first time – to her husband and mother, who had to stay there. For the future she wishes only one thing: to be together with her family again, without fearing for her life. Maybe – Katja hopes – everything will be “normal” again in a year.

We decided to travel here because a conversation about the history and future in Central and Eastern Europe would not be right at the moment without Ukraine. After crossing the border, on the way to Chernivtsi, we drive many kilometers past waiting trucks that supply the country with goods that are currently so urgently needed. In Chernivtsi we have an appointment with Oxana Matiychuk. The next post will report about the meeting with her.

Text: Christian Faludi & Tobias Schwessinger

Photo: Christian Faludi