Ukrainian dad speaks out on pain after heartbreaking goodbye to son

A Ukrainian father has opened up about his heartwrenching goodbye to his family which was pictured and became one of the most moving images of the Ukraine War. Ruslan Gladkiy said he finds it too difficult to discuss the moment due to the emotional pain it brings even one year on from Russia’s invasion. The photo captured a poignant moment during the Ukraine war, depicting the father bidding farewell to his son at a train station and telling him to be strong for his mother, uncertain if they will meet again.

Hordiy, who was nine at the time, has since returned to Ukraine, and Ruslan, who is now 36, recently spoke to the Mirror about how the war has deeply affected his family.

He said: “To be honest, we have not spoken about or discussed that terrible farewell day at Lviv train station.

“It is too painful and it is still an open wound.”

Within two days of the war’s outbreak, Ruslan and his wife Halyna, 38, made the difficult decision to send their children to stay with relatives in Italy for their safety.

It was a heart-wrenching choice to separate their family. However, after three months, Halyna and Hordiy, who was 9 years old at the time, and their 5-year-old daughter Emilia were able to come back home.

Ruslan then talked about the terrible experiences they went through in the past year.

He said: “We have become so accustomed to war that, it seems, we are no longer afraid of anything –not shelling, not earthquakes, not nuclear war.

“We go to work, celebrate birthdays and our friends have babies.

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“But all this happens constantly in a heightened psychological time, a constant small anxiety is present.

“Unfortunately, trouble can be expected from our bloodthirsty neighbour at any time.”

Ruslan explained that his wife is trying to earn more money by taking sewing classes.

He said: “Hordiy goes to school. If you can call it that. There was only one week this month. The rest of the time is distance learning.


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“The kindergartens are closed, so Emilia is forced to be with her mother all the time. Emilia also attends classes [outside school].”

Reflecting on the invasion, he said: “Those first days were terror, unknown, adrenaline, confusion, fear. And at school they don’t teach how to behave when war happens.

“What words to say to children who look you in the eyes? Should you go to work or stay with your family?

“You don’t know whether to buy bread first, or fuel, and whether there will be anything there tomorrow.”

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