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French man drives 3,000km to Ukrainian border to evacuate friends

‘It was my heart which guided me, not reason,’ said André Bouchet who crossed six countries to bring back a long-term friend’s family

André Bouchet met his Ukrainian friends at the border with Romania (pictured here) Pic: Gabriel Preda RO / Shutterstock

A French man from Savigneux (Loire) has just returned from a 3,000km journey to and from Ukraine, which he undertook to evacuate the loved ones of a long-time Ukrainian friend.

André Bouchet arrived back in Savigneux at around 18:00 yesterday evening (March 1), after driving for four days to pick up his friend Vadim’s wife Anna and son Micha, Anna’s best friend Sacha and her daughter Kira, from the Romania-Ukraine border at Sighetu.

Mr Bouchet has been friends with Vadim since 1998, when he and his wife Sylvie hosted him as part of a Franco-Ukrainian exchange scheme. They developed a bond “tighter than blood”; Mr Bouchet was later a witness at Vadim’s wedding and is godfather to his son.

He crossed six countries to reach the two women and two children, who have “left their men, their country, for who knows how long.”

When Russia invaded Ukraine last Thursday (February 24), Anna made the difficult decision to leave Vadim to reach safety in France with Micha and asked Mr Bouchet to come to the border. 

There, Mr Bouchet promised Vadim “that I would take care of his loved ones. It was my heart which guided me, not reason,” he told Le Progrès. 

“This is a story of friendship. When you love someone, you are prepared to go to the ends of the earth for them. I did it for Vadim. His blood does not run through our veins but he is in our heart.” 

When asked if she now felt safe, Anna broke down in tears, Le Progrès reports. Sacha said: “I am very worried about my family. I just want to be with my husband and my daughter in my house.” 

Sacha’s husband and Vadim were in contact with their families throughout their journey to France, but as all male Ukrainians aged between 18 and 60 are being called up to enlist in the armed forces, they have had to return to their home city of Zhytomyr.

Anna and Micha will now stay with Mr and Mrs Bouchet “for as long as they need.” Their application for residency has been accelerated thanks to an intervention from La République en Marche ! MP Julien Borowczyk.

Sacha and Kira will soon head for Sweden, where they have family waiting for them. 

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