Story 30: Nataliya
Nataliia lived in Ternova village, located 20 kilometers northeast of Kharkiv and just 7 kilometers from the Russian border.
On the first day of the full-scale Russian invasion, Russian forces seized control of her village. They prohibited anyone from leaving for Ukrainian-controlled territory, only allowing evacuation to Russia via buses provided by the occupation regime. This policy was enforced from May 31, 2022. Nataliya remembers some families departing for Russia in their own vehicles, as it was the only available option to exit Ternova.
On May 28, soldiers visited Nataliia’s and her neighbors’ homes, informing them of an open green corridor to Kharkiv city, which was still under Ukrainian control. Nataliia and seven of her neighbors expressed their desire to travel to Kharkiv. On the evening of May 31, the soldiers returned and boarded the eight villagers onto a bus, claiming it was bound for Kharkiv. However, Nataliia soon realized it was a ruse. The bus took a different route and eventually crossed the Russian border.