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  • 11 March 2024
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The Guardian features PFVMH medics on frontline

On Monday, The Guardian published a story on Ukrainian medics on the frontline, a good deal of which is dedicated to the Pirogov First Volunteer Mobile Hospital. The story’s title quotes one of the mobile hospital’s doctors: “Maybe I’m bonkers, but I have a calling.” It also includes a video shot by Serhiy Lytvynchuk, PFVMH’s “annalist,”

Below is an excerpt from the story featuring PFVMH.

Many working with wounded soldiers think the number of deaths is probably higher than the official estimate. “If you don’t recover a body, death is not confirmed,” said Svitlana Druzenko, medical director of the Pirogov First Volunteer Mobile Hospital. The Russians tried to kill paramedics and frequently fired on rescue vehicles, she said, adding that it was not possible to use helicopters as the enemy would target them, so casualties went by ambulance.

Druzenko and her team are based in Lyman, a frontline town not far from Sviatohirsk that has been occupied several times. She described the battle with Russia as “cardinally different” from the Second World War – a conflict “without any rules,” fought with kamikaze drones and laser-guided bombs. Russia’s recent successful military push was connected to its presidential election this week, she said. “The Kremlin loves dates. It’s trying to grab territory before then.”

Parked in front of a residential compound were green-painted ambulances and a Humvee. Given Ukraine’s recent setbacks, including the loss of the city of Avdiivka, how was morale? “Everyone is tired. Our Western partners are tired. I would describe myself as a pessimist,” Druzenko said. “No, realist is better.” In her view, people were “more important” than winning back Crimea and occupied areas. “I don’t see light at the end of the tunnel.”

Alex, a surgeon with the mobile hospital, said he often took part in medical evacuations despite the risk of being bombed. “Maybe I’m bonkers,” he joked. “But I have a calling to do this.” Other volunteers said they had no right to feel demoralized. “We believe in victory and a Ukrainian miracle,” said Masha Tsybulska, a 29-year-old nurse. “The wounded guys are not afraid. They are brave. So we have to keep going and hope for a breakthrough.”

Photo: Svitlana Druzenko, PFVMH Medical Director (Alessio Mamo/The Guardian)

Read on The Guardian site: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2024/mar/11/ukraine-medics-doctors-frontline-donetsk-russia-war


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