When openly gay soldier Alex Fischuk prepared to defend Ukraine against Russia's forces in February, he feared not only for his own life but also that of his partner, who was also in the army.

As an LGBTQ couple in a nation where same-sex relationships are not recognized, the 23-year-old worried about what would happen if his boyfriend was injured or killed in combat.

"If our (partner) dies ... we won't be allowed even to bury (them) ... they might not let us into the hospital," said Fischuk, a cadet specializing in air reconnaissance.