Sisters in arms. Natalia Borysovska

At the age of 20, Natalya Borysovska, who is now the commander of the  Field communication node branch, signed her first contract with the Armed Forces of Ukraine. It was in 2009. Now she has once again come to the defense of our state.

Read more about her thoughts on the Ukrainian-Russian war in our interview.

Tell your story: how did you connect your life with military service, what is your experience, what is your main motivation?

The story is not very epic, to be honest. It’s just that back in 2009, while re-watching the military film “Stormy Gate”, I wanted to find myself among men in terms of character. More precisely, I wanted to understand whether I would be able to become at the level of men professionally in a “purely male profession.” At that time, the salary there was very low, so money was definitely not a motivation, but something that could harden the character – yes, it sounded like motivation.

To date, my motivation for the Army is to show that the professional quality [of work] in any position should not be influenced by gender.

What is easier for a military man: to accept war simply as his job or to see it as a mission, to look at things philosophically?

As the practice of my personal experience has shown, it is necessary to perceive war as work, because philosophy is more about emotions, and emotions in war distract and interfere. But the words from the oath “I serve faithfully to the Ukrainian people” should be understood more deeply, as a state of mind, and not just on paper, sealed with a seal.

A story about a “military wedding”. Do you remember her fondly or do you have negative emotions after the divorce?

Of course with warmth, this is the period of my life, and at that time it was an episode of life’s happiness. Such memories cause warmth in the coldest and darkest nights. It was my choice – how can you be negative about your choice? Moreover, anything has a positive effect as an experience on your life in the future.

In one of your interviews, you said: “Love is love, and war is war.” Is this your position that indicates the priority of service over personal relationships? Was it always like that or did this idea develop over time?

This phrase is still with me all the time. I don’t prioritize service over relationships or vice versa. After all, these are different things. I am a soldier, my husband is a soldier. We are both at war, and each of us is in danger in one way or another. We love each other, but this should not prevent us from fulfilling our official duties. I or he should not put each other in front of the fact like “you can die, don’t go to the task, I love you, think about us”… This is not professional, period. We adults, of course, always worry about each other, but we also have a mind in our heads, so both of us prioritize living, loving, giving birth, but also not interfering in each other’s work, respecting everyone’s choice.

What do you think are the top three causes of burnout? Some theories claim that the psyche of a military man is “enough” for 200 days – do you agree? Did you have burnout; if so, what brought you back to life?

Three main causes of burnout: when you do not control the situation, when you allow the negative emotions of others to affect your emotional state, constant stay in a monotonous environment or in other words, “groundhog day”.

Regarding 300 days: I personally did not count how much time passes for me, but I can clearly say that every year I find myself in emotional burnout and, unfortunately, I cannot completely get rid of it.

I cannot return to a stable emotional state fully, but I have found ways to relax my condition a little – painting, embroidery and caring for animals. These are the things that distract me. Today, I am in critical condition, and I admit it, and I have no answer to the question “What do I need to rest?” But I know exactly when it will be – when the war will end and I will be able to cry everything that is inside me now, even if it is hysterical.

Tell us about the adaptation to peaceful life after demobilization.

Oh, in my 13 years in the army, I was dismissed from the ranks of the Armed Forces only once. And to be honest, the adaptation was so-so. In civilian life, I still stuck to “my own”. The work was related to veterans, volunteering, projects – everything was aimed at the military, which basically ended with me returning to the war.

Indeed, I noticed behind me the fact that I had an aggravation of justice, and sometimes it spilled out into aggression. It’s hard to live with, and I still don’t know how to get rid of it.

The Ukrainian army in 2014 and in 2022: has its mentality changed?

Changed! One of the most important factors is the fact that our commanders are no longer from post-Soviet times, the vector of the army’s development as a whole has changed, the attitude towards women in the army and women themselves towards the army has changed. I sincerely believe that this breakthrough will only continue to grow. We really now have respect for the military, just as the military himself respects the army.

War changes character. Is it irreversible? Do you agree that the war will remain inside those who were there forever?

Absolutely and definitely! War cannot but change. In any case, there will be an impact. Here the question is more in which direction the changes will go – someone is breaking, and someone, on the contrary, is growing. I cannot call the impact of the war completely negative. Looking at how society is changing, how the concept of statehood is growing in it, how consciousness is awakening – this is a really positive influence.

But after all, war is primarily about death, and death always leaves a mark. And yes, the war remains inside forever.

What’s the first thing you do when you get back to the rear? How do you feel?

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, over the past 4 years I rarely returned to the rear. But when there were such moments, I abstracted from everything and everyone. I tried to come across war topics as little as possible. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve had enough of her, and when you go back to civilian life, the last thing you want is to hear, “So, how’s it going in the war? When will it end? And how did one or the other die?” and so on. Especially when they are starting to politicize this topic. It’s exhausting.

From the “mortal”, the first thing I do is just soak in the bathroom, try to just get rid of all the dirt. Then a meeting with loved ones, and of course, a glass of cold white wine, because in the war and in the service, this is a complete ban on my part.

Name three of your main associations with war.

Sunflower, death and destruction.

Our War is the way to complete freedom. Freedom either from life or from slavery.

What warms your soul? How do you calm yourself down when you feel like you can’t stand it?

Animals warm my soul.

My soul is warmed by the videos of our children with manifestations of healthy patriotism – then you understand why you are here.

My soul is warmed by the words of support from relatives.

My soul is warmed by the news about the number of dead Russians on the battlefield and the destruction of their material “shit”.

What is the real Victory for you?

For me, victory will be when every citizen of my country understands that Ukraine is not only a State as a territorial object, but that it is a country with its own unique traditions, identity, sweet-sounding language and unique steel character.

To be Ukrainian means to be a free person and master of one’s land.

Victory will come when we stop justifying, and in some cases blaming, our weakness, and we act only for the development of our Ukrainian Ukraine.