A Ukrainian woman and her sick mother were reportedly killed by a Russian tank while searching for medication.
Valeriia Maksetska, 31, was shot dead while sitting in a car along with her mom and their driver in a village outside of Kyiv, US Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power said on Wednesday.
“I’m enormously sad to share the death of Valeriia ‘Lera’ Maksetska—proud Ukrainian, beloved @USAID implementing partner & brilliant, compassionate leader on building social cohesion & fighting disinformation,” Power wrote on Twitter.
Maketska, a trained medic, had initially made the difficult decision to stay behind in Kyiv after Russia launched its invasion into Ukraine over two weeks ago, Power said.
The “brave” woman was eventually forced to leave the capital in search of medicine after her ailing mother, Irina, ran out.
The two women and their driver, Yaroslov, were pulled over on their way to the border, and waiting for a Russian convoy to pass by, when a tank suddenly opened fire, according to Power.
Maketska was just days shy of her 32nd birthday. Her death is “devastating” for those who knew her, Power said.
“She only ventured out on that fateful day because her mother needed medicine. For those selfless acts, she paid the ultimate price,” Jamey Butcher, CEO and President of Chemonics, a USAID partner where Maketska had worked, said in a statement.
“After the attack, a good Samaritan who lived in the village carried Irina to her basement and gave her food and water. Sadly, Irina passed away.”
“Yaraslov was the cousin of one of our team members and drove many people to safety in his own car once the Russian military began hurling munitions. That day he just wanted to help a family in need. The man is a hero,” Butcher said.
According to Power, Maksetska was born in the now-Russian controlled Donetsk region of Ukraine, where she had assisted the humanitarian response after pro-Russian separatists seized power in 2014.
As Lera wrote when Kyiv was attacked, she was angry at the awful violence ‘but so proud to be a Ukrainian & live someplace where beliefs matter,’” Power wrote.
After surviving shelling in Donetsk, Maksetska moved to Kyiv and began working with USAID, “where she became beloved as ‘a brave woman with a kind heart’” Power said.
“Lera was a smart and beautiful young woman with a tremendous moral sense and duty to her country,” Butcher said.
“She had the keen ability to figure out how to get the goods and services her Ukrainian brothers and sisters needed to promote tolerance and unity in the face of increasing Russian aggression,” Butcher said. These skills were put to great use on our USAID-funded program.”