The TV journalist joins the Ukrainian military after his fiancé died at the front

Anastasiia Blyshchyk switched lives as a TV presenter for the front lines after her fiancé died on duty (Image: Anastasiia Blyshchyk/Instagram/@anastasiia_blyshchyk)

Oleksandr Makhov held a grenade in his hand when he proposed to Anastasiia Blyshchyk, which never happened (Image: Anastasiia Blyshchyk/Instagram/@anastasiia_blyshchyk)

Oleksandr Makhov bends on one knee and offers a grenade pin to his partner from the Ukrainian front line with Russian forces.

The riot gear-clad soldier playfully holds the explosives up to the camera as he asks Anastasiia Blyshchyk to take his hand.

Oleksandr got the answer he wanted, but he would not live to see the day.

A month later, the 36-year-old reservist was killed by Russian artillery fire while fighting to retake territory in the eastern Kharkiv region.

Anastasiia, 23, has now quit her job as a national TV presenter to continue his work and will become a soldier near Bakhmut in the eastern Donetsk region, which has been nicknamed the “meat grinder” because of the high casualty count at its sites.

She tells how her life changed overnight after Russia launched the full-scale invasion and rocked her life in Kyiv, where they shared their final hug at a draft office.

“On the evening of February 24, we had dinner at home and went to the military commissariat,” says the journalist.

“We hugged and I didn’t think it was the last hug.

“But on May 9, I hugged a closed coffin.”

Anastasiia serves in the Ukrainian Armed Forces near Izyum, Kharkiv region

Anastasiia serves in the Ukrainian Armed Forces near Izyum in the Kharkiv region (Image: Anastasiia Blyshchyk/Instagram/@anastasiia_blyshchyk)

Oleksandr first joined the Ukrainian Armed Forces as a volunteer in 2015 before becoming a TV reporter specializing in military journalism.

Two days before the full-scale attack, he received mobilization orders and joined the 95th Separate Amphibious Assault Brigade as a sergeant.

Oleksandr was killed by Russian artillery fire on May 4 in the village of Dovhenke near the town of Izyum.

His sacrifice was not in vain. A few months later, in a swift counteroffensive, Ukrainian forces drove Russian troops out of the settlement and most of the area.

Anastasiia hugged Oleksandr for the last time near the military commissariat on the evening of February 24. Kyiv, Ukraine

Anastasiia and Oleksandr hug for the last time (Image: Anastasiia Blyshchyk/Instagram/@anastasiia_blyshchyk)

The soldier was posthumously awarded the Order of Ukraine for Bravery (third class) by President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy and has named a street in the capital after him.

Anastasiia has been left with memories of her pre-war time, shattered when the first air and missile attacks hit Kyiv.

“Before the Russian invasion, I had everything without realizing it,” she says.

“We traveled together, snowboarded in the Carpathians, went to the cinema to premieres and had picnics on the weekends.

Anastasiia worked as a TV journalist at the national TV channel. In this picture she is preparing for the live streaming. The Independence Day of Ukraine in 2020. Kyiv, Ukraine

Anastasiia reports on the Independence Day of Ukraine in 2020 (Image: Anastasiia Blyshchyk/Instagram/@anastasiia_blyshchyk)

Anastasiia changes the street sign in Kyiv, Ukraine

Anastasiia is changing a street sign in Kyiv as it is being renamed after her fiancé (Image: Anastasiia Blyshchyk/Instagram/@anastasiia_blyshchyk)

“Everything changed on February 22 when Oleksandr called me and asked me to pack all his gear because he was a reservist in the Ukrainian army. Two days later, Oleksandr woke me up with a phone call.

“A while later I heard distant explosions outside the window.”

In the proposal video, Oleskandr, known as Sasha, doesn’t flinch as artillery fire erupts in the background before dropping to one knee and smiling for the camera as he pops the question.

Sorry, the video was not found

Anastasiia wrote on Facebook: “How I got a grenade ring instead of a wedding ring. Yes, of course!’

The soldier fell as Ukrainian forces resisted the invaders ahead of the lightning-fast counterattack that retook Izyum and other eastern towns in late September.

Deciding that the best way to honor her fiancé was on the battlefield, Anastasiia ignored the pleas of her loved ones when she joined the Kharkiv Brigade as a soldier.

They have invaded the liberated Izyum and are now holding the defenses there.


Anastasiia with the tools of war in the liberated Izyum (Image: Anastasiia Blyshchyk/Instagram/@anastasiia_blyshchyk)

The former Telekanal 24 journalist is currently serving near Bakhmut, the focal point of the war, which has been the scene of intense and brutal fighting.

While primarily a soldier, she acts as a press secretary, guiding journalists into the combat zone, helping organize their work, and protecting them from mines and other dangers.

She has also narrated the soldier’s story for a photo exhibition on the role of the media in the war and the alleged killing and wounding of journalists by Russian forces.

Anastasiia serves in the Ukrainian Armed Forces near Izyum, Kharkiv region

Anastasiia serves in the Ukrainian Armed Forces near Izyum (Image: Anastasiia Blyshchyk/Instagram/@anastasiia_blyshchyk)

The new recruit knows how to disassemble, clean and reassemble and fire a machine gun and how to fire from an armored personnel carrier.

She hopes to one day fly the blue and yellow flag in Oleksandr’s home province of Luhansk, held by Russian-backed proxies in the eastern Donbass region.

‘Only one thought kept me on earth after his death.’ says Anastasia.

“I realized that I had to do everything that Oleksandr didn’t have time for. Because if not me, then who?’

Anastasiia and Oleksandr enjoyed their life before the massive Russian invasion at a live concert in Kyiv, Ukraine

Anastasiia and Oleksandr at a concert in Kyiv before the full-scale invasion (Image: Anastasiia Blyshchyk/Instagram/@anastasiia_blyshchyk)

Oleksandr’s legacy includes being part of a valiant Ukrainian military resistance that drove Russian troops out of the approaches to Kyiv and retook large swathes of territory to the east and south.

Vladimir Putin has responded with the devastating attack on Bakhmut, launching waves of drone and missile attacks aimed at destroying the country’s civilian infrastructure as the freezing winter sets in.

A massive bombardment hit the national power grid yesterday, leaving Kharkiv, the second largest city, without electricity.

. Anastasiia raises the Ukrainian flag in liberated Izyum, Kharkiv region

Anastasiia raises the Ukrainian flag in Izyum (Image: Anastasiia Blyshchyk/Instagram/@anastasiia_blyshchyk)

Anastasiia, however, envisions a future in which Moscow’s forces are defeated and Ukrainians will no longer have to carry arms.

“Victory should be in the heart of every Ukrainian,” she says.

“We must do everything so that our children or grandchildren do not have to take up arms again.”

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Justin Scacco

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