Tears of joy and heartbreak, less than 24 hours apart: This is the emotional toll that Russia’s war on Ukraine is inflicting on the families of those called up to fight.
Natasha, the daughter of Ukrainian special forces commander Ruslan Pustovoit, was recorded weeping with happiness on Saturday night as her father was allowed to return home for the first time since Russia began its invasion almost five months ago.
But, the following afternoon, the little girl was crying tears of sadness instead as she accompanied Ruslan to the train station to wave goodbye to him as he was sent back to the frontlines.
Mother Tatanya captured both moments on video, posting them on social media to show the world the cruel toll the war is inflicting.
The first footage shows Natasha, dressed in her pyjamas, waiting by the front door late at night as her father arrives in his uniform – AK rifle slung over his shoulder.
She runs out into the corridor to give him a hug, as he lifts her into the air and carries her across the threshold.
An image taken just moments later shows her standing on the floor, arms wrapped tight around her father’s head, tears clearly visible in her eyes as he buries his face into her shoulder.
Writing alongside that video, Tatanya said Natasha was ‘shocked and surprised’ to see her father at their house in Odesa – where they were forced to relocate from their native Mariupol as Russian troops razed it to the ground.
‘She prayed every day, because the last meeting was in Mariupol on February 24,’ Tatanya wrote – giving the date that Russia’s invasion began.
A second piece of footage captured the following day shows Ruslan embracing Natasha in the back of a car, as she sits crumpled into her father’s lap.