“He had never been in the army, but he signed up on the first day of the war,” said Losev’s brother-in-law, Viktor Chesolin after the funeral.

The countryside was in full bloom when Iuliia Loseva buried her husband in the village cemetery near her home. On her knees in the grass, she bowed her head over the open coffin and kissed him one last goodbye before they lowered him into his grave.

There was a military band, and a six-gun salute. His teenage sons, pale and stunned, walked behind their father’s coffin holding framed photographs of him in his camouflage uniform.

But this was not a military funeral for a career soldier. Volodymyr Losev’s foray into the army was as sudden as it was brief.

A little over three months ago the 38-year-old was just another civilian, driving trucks and operating cranes, working to take care of his family in a small village near the port city of Odesa in southwestern Ukraine.

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