Cambridge student vows to sit exams on frontline after going to fight in Ukraine

A Cambridge University student has returned to his Ukraine homeland to fight, saying he could not look friends in the eye if he did not help.

But Nikolai Nizalov has vowed to keep studying and hopes to take his exams.

The 19-year-old natural sciences undergraduate, who moved from Ukraine to Britain with his family in 2013, will work as a medic and drone operator in a nine-man volunteer unit.

He has promised to stay in the country ‘until we win’.

Nikolai said: ‘I’ve brought my lectures with me that I need to watch. I’ll try to keep up with them with the little spare time I have.

‘I might sit my exam in May remotely. Ideally I’ll come back for second year in October but I’m not going to leave until we win.

‘Even if I don’t get a great mark this year I can apply for special permission to get into next year.’


Nikolai is originally from Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine, and is currently living at a friend’s house in the western city of Lviv.

The student’s platoon is due to travel towards Kyiv this week and he will be given a rifle for protection, despite having no combat experience.

But he said choosing to stay in England was simply not on option.

Nikolai, who played in a varsity water polo match against Oxford university days before leaving, said: ‘When I was in Cambridge it was weird because my country was at war and people were going on with their normal lives.


‘I have friends on the frontlines and I wouldn’t be able to look them in the eye if I didn’t help out.

‘In Ukraine we are all together and I feel much more at peace.

‘My parents obviously didn’t want me to go but they understood why I wanted to – and I didn’t give them much choice.’

He is also fundraising and has already made enough to buy two 4×4 vehicles for his unit. To help, go to Nikolai’s PayPal page.

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