Liubov Yarosh: The 102-Year-Old Grandmother Outfitting Ukrainian Snipers

As it entered its second year, a 102-year-old Ukrainian woman named Liubov Yaros lent her efforts to the Ukrainian resistance to the Russian occupation of her country. It was just the latest example of foreign aggression in her country she's experienced in her lifetime, according to CNN. Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of neighboring Ukraine in February 2022. The overall strength of the Ukrainian resistance to the Russian incursion has been noted by outside observers, as Reuters writes.

For her part, Yarosh was involved in the fight the only way she can, and in one of the few ways her advanced age allowed her. She stitched camouflage suits to keep Ukrainian snipers safe on the battlefield. On the role that she now plays in the Ukrainian war effort, Yarosh told the Holodomor Museum that her only dream is for the war to end, and for peace to once more return to her homeland.

Yarosh survived Stalin's famine

Born in 1920, Liubov Yarosh has lived through three famines. Chief among them, Russian communist leader Joseph Stalin's Ukrainian famine in the early 1930s, now often referred to as Holodomor (via Holodomor Museum). As Britannica writes, Holodomor or the Great Famine is generally agreed to have been planned by Stalin in an effort to suppress nationalist sentiment in Ukraine and to speed industrialization all throughout the Soviet Union. Grain and wheat were diverted from Ukraine as part of the Soviet collectivization of agriculture.

Famine occurred elsewhere in the Soviet Union during this time period leading to an estimated 5 million deaths. Ukraine, though, is now believed to have been specifically targeted by Stalin's policies. Remembering her experience during Holodomor, Yarosh said (via CNN), "There was nothing to eat then ... My legs were swollen, my arms were swollen. I was so sick. I thought I was going to die." In her long life, Yarosh has also seen her native Ukraine occupied by Nazi forces during the Second World War and the rise and eventual fall of the Soviet Union.

Yarosh ties burlap strings into netting, as long as her fingers will let her

After the 2022 invasion of Ukraine by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Yarosh, who is a great-grandmother to seven great-grandchildren, lent a hand to the war effort by tying burlap strings into netting which was then used to make camouflage outfits for Ukrainian snipers to wear in forest and snow settings, as CNN explains. Three of her grandchildren were also serving in the war effort, per the Holodomor Museum website. Speaking with the Holodomor Museum, Yarosh described the process of threading the burlap strings through the holes in the suit, which are then tightened with a hook. 

"I sort the bags into threads," Yarosh said, and after a long day at work, she added, "My fingertips are already hurting, so I came to the house and lay down." Via Holodomor Museum, she also added, "I feel sorry for all the people whose peaceful and calm lives this war came in ... I really want this war to end as soon as possible." As of January 22, 2023, an estimated 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers and at least 30,000 Ukrainian civilians had been killed in the fighting. Some sources estimate that as many 200,000 Russian soldiers have died in action, though no one knows for sure, per The New York Times.