Ukraine claims more success in taking territory around Kharkiv

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Ukrainians Luba and Rodion walk through the Lviv train station.
Ukrainians Luba and Rodion walk through the Lviv train station. (Jaap Arriens for CNN)

Ukrainians Luba and Rodion rushed through the tunnel at the Lviv train station with all their belongings packed in a large suitcase and a couple of smaller bags. Their most precious cargo is their daughter, born a month and a half ago, riding in a comfortable stroller. They were headed to Zaporizhzhia after being evicted from their house in Uzhhorod, near the border with Slovakia.

“They raised the price and we couldn’t afford it,” said Luba struggling to hold back tears. 

Anecdotal reports indicate rents are rising in the safer parts of the country as more people flee the frontlines in the east and south.

Luba said this is the second time she has been forced to leave her home because of a foreign invasion — she was 17 when Russia invaded the Crimea region in 2014.

“It was horrible,” she said. As soon as she turned 18, she moved, leaving behind the horrors of that war. 

The young couple, both in their 20s, said their focus is to find a safe place to live, knowing that the Russian army is within striking distance of Zaporizhzhia and Rodion could be called to take arms in defense of his country.

“I have no military training,” he said. “But I will join the other men and protect our land.”

While they would soon board a train to an uncertain future, they go with hope — figuratively and literally. They named their daughter Nadiya, which in Ukrainian means hope. 

Nadiya sleeps in her stroller.
Nadiya sleeps in her stroller. (Jaap Arriens for CNN)

Waiting for a train to Kyiv, Volodymyr Symonenko and his wife were going home, or what is left of it. At the train station, they shared photographs of the heavily damaged building in Hostomel, where he used to live with his wife. 

It was Feb. 24, the first day of the invasion, when Symonenko said they saw the Russian helicopters fly overhead firing missiles. 

“I wish I had a Stinger missile with me so I could take down the helicopters,” he said.

But instead they had to seek shelter in the building’s cellar for 20 days with the other residents who survived the attack.  

The retired army soldier said he was part of the Soviet army and remained with the Ukrainian armed forces after the Kremlin lost its grip on this country. He admits that he always feared Russia might want to take back this land.

After spending time in Lviv, the couple will return to Hostomel to be with their children. Their son is a member of the army.

They know the walls and windows of their apartment are damaged, but he said the roof is still intact, and that’s enough to try to rebuild their home.