Hospital sees 30% rise in seriously wounded Ukrainian soldiers, says doctor

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(DNIPRO, Ukraine) — The number of heavily wounded soldiers being treated at one of Ukraine’s largest trauma hospitals has risen by as much as 30% in the past few weeks, according to the chief doctor there.

Dr. Sergii Ryzhenko told ABC News that the Mechnikov Hospital in the city of Dnipro, a few hours’ drive from the fighting, is now receiving between 40 and 100 seriously wounded men each day, with his team performing between 50 and 100 surgical operations in any 24-hour period.

Many of those procedures are amputations, he said.

Lying in his hospital bed with the left side of his face burnt and blackened, 22-year-old Nazar is one of the latest soldiers to have had a limb removed at the hospital.

Medical teams at the Mechnikov have amputated the limbs of around 3,000 soldiers since Russia’s full-scale war began, said Ryzhenko.

Nazar lost his left arm to an exploding Russian drone, which is now one of the deadliest threats for frontline troops, according to Ukrainian soldiers.

The Ukrainian government has not released official figures for the total number of soldiers who have been killed or wounded since Russia launched its full-scale invasion nearly two years ago.

However, anecdotal evidence of mounting Ukrainian casualties in the war was reinforced by claims made on Ukrainian television this weekend by the country’s former prosecutor general.

Yuriy Lutsenko claimed that around 30,000 Ukrainian troops are now being killed or badly wounded per month and that the total casualty toll for wounded and killed in the war is around 500,000.

The Ukrainian government is soon expected to announce a fresh wave of military mobilization, and Lutsenko argued that casualty figures should now be published in order to convey the seriousness of the situation to the Ukrainian public. He said it would help explain why a large number of fresh recruits are needed.

There has been no comment on Lutsenko’s claims from Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense and, despite refraining from releasing Ukrainian casualty estimates, Western and Ukrainian officials have, in recent months, always claimed that Russian casualties in the war have been higher.

In a briefing to journalists in November, Western officials said they estimated that between 300,000 and 400,000 Russian soldiers had been injured and killed.

Since the fall Russia has been pushing to regain the initiative on the battlefield and has made gradual gains in eastern areas of the frontlines.

According to Ukrainian soldiers, Russian forces now have key advantages, including superior numbers and types of lethal drones as well as better technologies to counter Ukrainian drones.

With US military funding for Ukraine drying up, Ukrainian officials have warned that its stocks of artillery shells, which are arguably the most important munition in the war, are running low.

In contrast, say Ukrainian officials, the Russian military’s stocks of artillery ammunition are much higher, meaning its troops have been able to out-gun Ukrainian frontline forces.

Vitaliy, another badly wounded soldier being treated at the Mechnikov Hospital in Dnipro, told ABC News that “it seems [Russian forces] have unlimited access” to munitions.

Leading House Republicans and the Biden administration are still locked in negotiations on what additional measures should be implemented at the US border. Those talks are linked to a wider funding deal for Ukraine.

If additional U.S. funding for Ukraine is not agreed soon, then the fear for local officials is that Ukrainian casualties in the war will mount further.

Vitaliy, 32, who is originally from Latvia, was being treated for major shrapnel wounds to his arms and legs.

He said he came to fight for Ukraine at the beginning of the war because he didn’t want Moscow to threaten his country, which is a member of the European Union and the NATO alliance.

Latvia was, until 1991, part of the Soviet Union and therefore ruled by Moscow.

He said he believes that if Russia defeats Ukraine and takes control of wider areas of the country the Kremlin will not stop there.

“The Russians definitely would go further,” he said, and “continue to invade countries.”

 

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