Oksana sits in her Aberdeen flat, fascinated with her husband. She hasn't spoken to him in virtually two years. She wears a bracelet within the colours of Ukraine, and a marriage ring that shines on her finger.

Her husband Alexei – not his actual identify – was captured by the Russians whereas combating for the Ukrainian military in Mariupol in April 2022.

Nearly two years later, Oksana, who works as a maid within the Aberdeen space, is asking for her companion's launch.

The 28-year-old, who has been residing in Scotland for the previous 18 months after fleeing the battle, is believed to be in a Russian jail.

The BBC selected to not identify her husband and obscured his face in pictures.

Oksana fights again tears. “He’s a really form, caring individual. He’s all the time there for me. He all the time makes me smile.”

Oksana has not heard from Alexei since she acquired a letter from jail in September 2022. After speaking to different prisoners launched since then and looking social media akin to Telegram channels, she thinks he was nonetheless in jail in January of this 12 months 12 months.

She mirrored: “He’ll come to me, and we may have an exquisite future collectively. The 2 of us, and our cat. I don't learn about kids now.”

A life collectively

Oksana met Alexei after they have been each youngsters and studied on the identical college in southern Ukraine.

After a 12 months of being shut buddies, romance blossomed. They appreciated to experience bikes and run collectively. He cherished taking part in video games like Name of Obligation on his Ps.

Oksana says that he was all the time a Ukrainian patriot, and in 2015 he signed up for the armed forces when he was simply 18 years outdated.

He served in Donetsk, the place Russian-backed forces had seized management years earlier. When the Russians launched their full-scale invasion two years in the past, every part modified.

Epidemic of battle

On the morning of February 24, 2022, Oksana woke as much as a name from her buddy. “He informed me the battle had begun.”

Alexei packed his issues and was ordered to go to Mariupol. How did he really feel?

“She was excited,” Oksana stated. “I feel he was taking part in an excessive amount of Name of Obligation! He was excited to defend Ukraine.”

Earlier than leaving, he took Oksana to a different a part of the nation to be along with his household.

“We noticed Russian planes and snipers. The whole lot was on fireplace.”

As soon as her husband left, Oksana hid as finest she might. “I heard explosions. The entire home was shaking. We have been hiding within the basement, however we might nonetheless hear the explosions, the airplane and the capturing.

After a number of weeks, the Russians occupied their space. There was no electrical energy, however she ultimately managed to speak to her husband on the cellphone to let him know she was okay. However I wasn't positive.

“They (the Russians) checked the vehicles, they checked the individuals. They went to the homes to seek out some indicators that we despatched messages to the Ukrainian troopers about their scenario.

“He took some individuals. I don't know what occurred to him after that. He was afraid to go away the home. I solely went to church as soon as every week.”

The siege of Mariupol

Alexei, in the meantime, was within the midst of a number of the fiercest combating of the battle.

It was in Mariupol, a key strategic goal for Russian forces within the early phases of the invasion, because it hyperlinks Crimea and Donbas. The brutal battle lasted greater than 80 days, earlier than Russia took management.

“He informed me that every part was actually dangerous, and we didn't have a solution to get out of town.”

In a name, Alexei revealed that the Russians had bombed his unit. Many troopers with whom he had served for years have been killed. She was left with shrapnel in her head and hand.

“He was devastated,” Oksana stated. “I used to be crying on a regular basis, however I used to be attempting to not present that I used to be so scared as a result of I used to be in a worse scenario than I used to be.”

He referred to as her a number of weeks earlier than he was captured to say there was “no probability of survival”, with weapons, ammunition, meals and water all gone. “He requested me to maintain his household, and to maintain myself.”

Then, on April 12, 2022, Alexei referred to as to say that he was alive however had been taken prisoner. He requested to return to the Ukrainian territory, after which moved to a buddy's home within the west of Ukraine.

The highway to Aberdeen and in search of her husband


Oksana lives in Aberdeen however needs to return to Ukraine sooner or later along with her husband.

Whereas there, Oksana learn in regards to the alternative to flee the battle and moved to the UK.

After making use of by way of a Scottish authorities refugee program, she arrived quickly after on her personal in August 2022, along with her household and buddies nonetheless again in Ukraine.

A month later, she acquired a letter from her husband from a Russian jail. “He stated that he was alive, he was nicely, he was handled nicely, and that he cherished me, but it surely appeared that that they had dictated what he wrote. There have been no emotions in it.”

That's the final she heard from him.

Since her seize, Oksana says she has been involved with the Worldwide Committee of the Crimson Cross, the United Nations and the Ukrainian authorities – however to no avail.

“It's Russia's Flip”

In July of final 12 months, he had heard of one other prisoner who had been along with her husband. He stated that Alexei had misplaced weight, and misplaced hope.

Then, a second prisoner who had been with Alexei was additionally launched. She says she revealed that Oksana's husband was nonetheless in a Russian jail on January 3 this 12 months.

“No person may also help,” Oksana says, combating again tears. “It's as much as Russia.”

Since arriving in Scotland, he has lived in a resort in Dyce, pupil lodging, and is now in his council flat in Aberdeen.

She spends her days working as a maid in an area resort, longing to return to Ukraine along with her husband. She stays in contact with a neighborhood of different Ukrainians who additionally escaped the battle and ended up in Scotland.

“The very first thing after my husband referred to as me and stated he was in captivity, I used to be like – 'it's higher.' He'll be alive, and he'll be wonderful, but it surely's already been two years.

“I do know many instances the place individuals by no means return from captivity. They have been tortured or killed.

“I like this nation. The Scots I’ve met have all the time been extraordinarily form. They assist me. However sooner or later, I wish to return. After my husband returns, I wish to keep in Ukraine as a result of it’s my residence.

“I cherished it, and I’ll look forward to it.”

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