Man drives 3,700 kilometers to be with parents and fiancée who live 10 kilometers away

Tsyrkuny, where the man lives, is under siege by the Russians. The destruction to this house illustrates that. — © EPA-EFE

The front line separated him from his parents and betrothed. So, Ukrainian Serhi Belyaev (32) drove 3,700 kilometers instead of the usual 10 to be with his loved ones again. A journey that was accompanied by countless interrogations, car trouble, Russian guns and even a corona infection. His unlikely story, as described in The guardian.

Sunday 22 May 2022 at 16:51

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Love does crazy things to a person. Especially in times of war. That is how the story of 32-year-old Ukrainian Serhi Belyaev came to be. He lives in the village of Tsyrkuny. His fiancée and his parents live about ten kilometers away in Kharkov. Before the war that meant turning onto Sorbornastraat, taking the E40 to the Lesia Serduika highway and there he was. But when the Russians invaded Ukraine on February 24, it took just a few hours for his home city to be completely captured and the Lesia Seduika turned into the front line. That meant that his fiancée and his parents were on the other side of the front, and he couldn’t possibly cross that line.

So he came up with an alternative plan. Instead of the usual 10 kilometers, he would undertake a journey of 3,700 kilometers to get to his loved ones. “To the Russian border, through Russia to Latvia, on to Lithuania and Poland and then back to western Ukraine to reach Kharkov from the west,” he told The Guardian† “It was a little crazy, yeah.” But it was possible.

small convoy

At 1 o’clock in the afternoon on April 4, he left in a small convoy. And regardless of the enormous distance, it was not going to be easy. They were stopped for hours at each border post. Suspected of being a spy, he had to tell a believable story time and again to get to the next checkpoint. Along the way, they also had to deal with engine trouble and sometimes had to balance on broken bridges and roads. Several times he came face to face with Russian machine guns and had to give full throttle to avoid violating the curfew.

After countless hours of interrogation and little sleep, they arrived in Latvia on April 6. By noon they were already in Lithuania and by evening they arrived in the Polish capital Warsaw. The greatest dangers had passed, but then Covid got hold of him. He stayed in the capital for seven days. There were doubts. Staying Safe Abroad or Re-Entering Ukraine? Belyaev persevered. “I had to get to my fiancé.”

On 14 April he left again and made it to Lviv, the westernmost city of Ukraine. But he was determined to drive on. Although that meant that he had to go through a war zone again. “Many roads were closed – it probably added 100km to our 550km journey. But that’s nothing if you drive 3,700 km instead of 10 km to get home,” the man said.

Short stops in Kyiv, where he could sleep in a bed for the first time in 11 days, and in Poltava, where his younger brother lives, and then on to Kharkov. Fifty meters from the house of Nataliy, his fiancée, he was again stopped by the police. “They were suspicious of the covers and the condition of my car. They asked if I had slept in it, and why. Only my passport stamps convinced them of my story.” After 3,700 kilometers he could fall into Nataliy’s arms.

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