Ukrainian fighters counting the physical and mental cost of conflict
Iolo ap Dafydd in Ukraine

The longer the conflict between Russia and Ukraine continues, the higher the number of casualties. UN figures say more than 8,000 have been killed so far and more than 13,000 Ukrainians have been injured. The actual numbers are certain to be much higher.

CGTN Europe's were given access to the hospital wards full of Ukrainian soldiers receiving treatment for their injuries.

Alexsander suffered severe facial injuries when a mortal shell exploded in his face. /CGTN
Alexsander suffered severe facial injuries when a mortal shell exploded in his face. /CGTN

Alexsander suffered severe facial injuries when a mortal shell exploded in his face. /CGTN

Alexsander was fighting in Bakhmut when a mortar shell blew up in his face. He told CGTN Europe: "We were caught by mortar fire. We didn't hear it … and it was only a short distance from us. They fired lots of bombs…. It may have been a mine, and we couldn't hear it. I was injured with two other soldiers … I was bandaged and evacuated."


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Alexsander and other soldiers preferred not to give their surnames. Still getting used to the extent of his injuries, he plans on returning to his unit as soon as he can.

On his ward are patients with face injuries, while in other wards are soldiers with other serious injuries, like damaged arms and legs.

Mihail was shot in the face while firing a grenade launcher. "The doctors say my injury is not that serious," he said. "The bullet went straight through my lower jaw and past my teeth. But maybe they won't be able to fix it that easily, and they'll send me to another hospital to put a plate in the jaw and try and repair the bone in my face."

Yet, like Alexsander, Mihail insists he'll recover and return to the front line. The hospital we visited must remain anonymous because both the hospital authorities and the surgeon do not want to attract unwelcome attention.


Increase in casualties

Ihor, a specialist in face and head injuries, confirmed that an increasing number of casualties are being brought in for emergency treatment.

"There were perhaps fewer fighters needing treatment in the first half of the year, when the war was further away from us," he explained. "But now in the last six months we have had a steady 120-150 soldiers arriving here for treatment every month."

Another more insidious danger lies ahead for those who manage to get through the physical challenges of the front line, according to Andriy Zholob, medical manager of the Ukrainian army 46 Brigade.

According to Zholob: "It's a hyper big problem. I hope our government understands it because in every interview I say we need to start physiological and social work with soldiers right now."

He added: "Those guys in the trenches … who are yesterday's farmers, engineers, drivers and so on. They are afraid - and that fright will explode."

Russia, meanwhile, has only provided two casualty reports since the war began, the last of which was on September 21 when Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that 5,937 Russian troops had been killed.

 The Kyiv government won't say how many of their own soldiers and civilians have died. Ukraine's cemeteries offer some idea of the sacrifices that have already been made – and will continue to do so.

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