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A chain-smoking uni student who has spent the last month side-stepping Russian spies and driving vital aid to Ukrainian refugees, has revealed what life is like on the road in his harrowing war-time diary.

The University of Queensland Law and Philosophy student Billie Kugelman, 21, decided to ditch class and his gig as chief editor of the student newspaper Semper Floreat, when Vladimir Putin‘s forces launched a bloody invasion at the end of February.

He told Daily Mail Australia it was a ‘spontaneous’ decision to go and help those in desperate need, and that loved ones pleaded with him not to put his life in danger for a country he has no connection with.

But Mr Kugelman said other than the constant threat of ‘Russian secret service agents, Chechen soldiers and wayward cruise missiles’ he’s been ‘pretty safe’.

University of Queensland Law and Philosophy student Billie Kugelman, 21 (pictured), decided to ditch class and his gig as chief editor of the student newspaper Semper Floreat, when Vladimir Putin's forces launched a bloody invasion at the end of February

University of Queensland Law and Philosophy student Billie Kugelman, 21 (pictured), decided to ditch class and his gig as chief editor of the student newspaper Semper Floreat, when Vladimir Putin's forces launched a bloody invasion at the end of February

University of Queensland Law and Philosophy student Billie Kugelman, 21 (pictured), decided to ditch class and his gig as chief editor of the student newspaper Semper Floreat, when Vladimir Putin’s forces launched a bloody invasion at the end of February

The student revealed in a diary excerpt what life has been like on the road crisscrossing Eastern Europe delivering humanitarian aid

The student revealed in a diary excerpt what life has been like on the road crisscrossing Eastern Europe delivering humanitarian aid

The student revealed in a diary excerpt what life has been like on the road crisscrossing Eastern Europe delivering humanitarian aid

A Russian missile strike leaves a Kyiv apartment building in ruins (pictured, April 8)

A Russian missile strike leaves a Kyiv apartment building in ruins (pictured, April 8)

A Russian missile strike leaves a Kyiv apartment building in ruins (pictured, April 8)

His 12-16 hour days see him crisscrossing Eastern Europe ferrying humanitarian aid, including food, medicine, bandages, sanitary items, clothing, and blankets to those who’ve been forced to leave everything behind.

According to one excerpt from his daily diary on March 28, he sets off from a base of operations in Kosice, Slovakia, after sleeping on a bed that’s ‘too short’, lighting up a cigarette and loading up the van.

Mr Kugelman sets off for Uzhhorod in Ukraine’s west, rolling from checkpoint to checkpoint with his interpreter Tomas.

‘Slovakian border guards wouldn’t let us smoke, and also made us make a customs declarations. Half of the guardhouse for us,’ he writes.

On the other side of the border, Mr Kugelman said: ‘Ukrainian border officials twice lost our documents and twice asked for papers they were yet to issue (intra-border). AK47-carrying and smoking soldiers would not let us light up either.’ 

But he finally got to spark up ‘while rolling from checkpoint (vegan Winstons)’.

Mr Kugelman (pictured right, at a humanitarian aid warehouse in Eastern Europe) said it was a 'spontaneous' decision to go and help those in desperate need

Mr Kugelman (pictured right, at a humanitarian aid warehouse in Eastern Europe) said it was a 'spontaneous' decision to go and help those in desperate need

Mr Kugelman (pictured right, at a humanitarian aid warehouse in Eastern Europe) said it was a ‘spontaneous’ decision to go and help those in desperate need

Mr Kugelman (pictured with his interpreter Tomas) has been ferrying humanitarian aid including food, medicine, bandages, sanitary items, clothing, and blankets

Mr Kugelman (pictured with his interpreter Tomas) has been ferrying humanitarian aid including food, medicine, bandages, sanitary items, clothing, and blankets

Mr Kugelman (pictured with his interpreter Tomas) has been ferrying humanitarian aid including food, medicine, bandages, sanitary items, clothing, and blankets

By 3pm Mr Kugelman arrives at a warehouse in Dovhe Pole in western Ukraine to drop off supplies and is told he’s welcome to use the bathroom facilities which consists of a freezing cold ‘outhouse’ propped up with timber and tin.

He says the invitation drew smirks and laughter from workers at the facility.

Mr Kugelman said he cannot mention the name, or any specific details of the aid mission he’s been working for.

Russian GRU agents have been swarming Ukraine’s western borders since the conflict began, examining military and humanitarian aid corridors established by NATO to support President Volodymyr Zelensky’s steadfast resistance.

Russian GRU agents have been swarming Ukraine's western borders since the conflict began

Russian GRU agents have been swarming Ukraine's western borders since the conflict began

Russian GRU agents have been swarming Ukraine’s western borders since the conflict began

A young Ukrainian boy freeing the war with his family takes a moment to check out Mr  Kugelman's van

A young Ukrainian boy freeing the war with his family takes a moment to check out Mr  Kugelman's van

A young Ukrainian boy freeing the war with his family takes a moment to check out Mr  Kugelman’s van

The bathroom facilities at this aid warehouse in Dovhe Pole, western Ukrainian, consists of this outhouse

The bathroom facilities at this aid warehouse in Dovhe Pole, western Ukrainian, consists of this outhouse

The bathroom facilities at this aid warehouse in Dovhe Pole, western Ukrainian, consists of this outhouse

‘A few days earlier we crossed into Slovakia from Hungary when Russian secret service agents and disguised Chechen soldiers were apprehended by a patrol border,’ Mr Kugelman said.

‘We were probably closest to the conflict in Tulcea, southern Ukraine, where wayward missiles present a slight risk. Otherwise, we’ve been pretty safe.’

By 7pm he sets off back to Slovakia to pick up a new load of supplies but gets stuck in traffic on the congested Ukrainian border.

‘Foot traffic much faster, women pushing prams hurriedly in freezing cold. Fearful embraces here and there between mothers, daughters, sisters and fathers, sons, brothers. Smoked for warmth,’ he writes.

Mr Kugelman said it’s been confronting to witness the droves of refugees fleeing bombed out cities across Ukraine.

Ukrainian forces reclaim devastated areas in Kyiv after Russia's withdrawal (pictured, April 8)

Ukrainian forces reclaim devastated areas in Kyiv after Russia's withdrawal (pictured, April 8)

Ukrainian forces reclaim devastated areas in Kyiv after Russia’s withdrawal (pictured, April 8)

The socially conscious student (pictured right) ditched class and his gig as chief editor of the student newspaper Semper Floreat to support refugees in Ukraine

The socially conscious student (pictured right) ditched class and his gig as chief editor of the student newspaper Semper Floreat to support refugees in Ukraine

The socially conscious student (pictured right) ditched class and his gig as chief editor of the student newspaper Semper Floreat to support refugees in Ukraine

Mr Kugelman (pictured on the road delivering supplies) complained that AK47-carrying Ukrainian guards would not him light up at the border, even though they were smoking themselves

Mr Kugelman (pictured on the road delivering supplies) complained that AK47-carrying Ukrainian guards would not him light up at the border, even though they were smoking themselves

Mr Kugelman (pictured on the road delivering supplies) complained that AK47-carrying Ukrainian guards would not him light up at the border, even though they were smoking themselves

It’s estimated more than 4 million people have fled the war-torn nation for bordering countries such as Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Moldova.

‘What was most harrowing was that the refugees are mostly women and children, all with the same story,’ he said.

‘They’ve left their husbands and brothers behind. Some have had it worse than others too, and it shows on their faces – they’re almost gaunt, with bags under their eyes and a grim look.’

Although Mr Kugelman’s instinct is to probe survivors about the traumatising details of their escape, given his experience as editor of UQ’s student newspaper, he said most of the time he doesn’t press them.

‘People are on edge. So it’s much better to just spend time with them, and to try and make them smile.’

By 11:30pm, Mr Kugelman is finally ready to make the hours-long trip back to Slovakia and get some much-needed rest in his short bed before he does it all again the following day.

Another famous University of Queensland face Drew Pavlou (left), stops off in Poland to say G'day and support the aid mission (Mr Kugelman, right)

Another famous University of Queensland face Drew Pavlou (left), stops off in Poland to say G'day and support the aid mission (Mr Kugelman, right)

Another famous University of Queensland face Drew Pavlou (left), stops off in Poland to say G’day and support the aid mission (Mr Kugelman, right)

It's estimated more than 4 million people have fled the war-torn nation for bordering countries such as Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Moldova. Pictured: Aid supplies about to be loaded up by Mr Kugelman

It's estimated more than 4 million people have fled the war-torn nation for bordering countries such as Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Moldova. Pictured: Aid supplies about to be loaded up by Mr Kugelman

It’s estimated more than 4 million people have fled the war-torn nation for bordering countries such as Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Moldova. Pictured: Aid supplies about to be loaded up by Mr Kugelman

A DAY IN THE LIFE DELIVERING HUMANITARIAN AID SUPPLIES 

MARCH 28: 

11:30 – Poor night’s sleep, curled up with head against headboard and feet on wall – bed too short. Woke others, packed bags in van and smoked Winstons – good because vegan.

12:00 – Left for border, cheap bread in Slovakia.

13:30 – Slovakian border guards wouldn’t let us smoke, and also made us make a customs declarations. Half of the guardhouse for us.

14:00 – Ukrainian border officials twice lost our documents and twice asked for papers they were yet to issue (intra-border). AK47-carrying and smoking soldiers would not let us light up either.

14:30 – Lit up while rolling from checkpoint (vegan Winstons)

15:00 – Arrived Dovhe Pole warehouse. Landlord directed us to use outhouse. Onlooking worker shook head grimly. Unloaded supplies

17:00 – Met contact in Uzhhorod, discussed needs. Had to walk to street for smoke as meeting-place was a hold place. Met some refugees, easy to tell but hard to comprehend. River Uzh has beautiful green banks. Littered with people. Youths nearly called cops on us.

19:00 – got stuck in traffic leading out of Ukraine. Foot traffic much faster, women pushing prams hurriedly in freezing cold. Fearful embraces here and there between mothers, daughters, sisters and fathers, sons, brothers. Smoked for warmth.

23:30 – Left border. Interpreter threw up in car at border crossing norovirus.

Got back to Kosice at some point. Same short bed.

University of Queensland Law and Philosophy student Billie Kugelman, 21, 

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Source: DailyMail

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