Despite declarations coming from Moscow that the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut has fallen to invading Russian forces, bloody battles are still going on all over the city, 'Aktuaalne kaamera' (AK) reported Monday evening.
ERR correspondents Anton Aleksejev and Kristjan Svirgsden have been delivering regular reportages from the front, with the latest one coming from a Ukrainian military hospital in a subterranean location close to Bakhmut.
The filed hospital is a stabilization point belonging to the 57th brigade, where the injured are given immediate aid before undergoing medivac to hospitals in the rear.
Mikhail, a Ukrainian soldier working at the facility, told AK that: "All those who have been evacuated from here have survived, we transported all of them to the hospital. There had been some who were in a very serious condition, and who passed away here unfortunately. But everyone who has been evacuated from here, has made it."
On soldier had been injured, lightly, thankfully, on the outskirts of Bakhmut less than an hour before the report was made, and he was brought into the field hospital.
He brought with him an unvarnished snapshot of the situation on the ground in Bakhmut.
"The last time I was there, things were very difficult. We held our positions, and we continued to do so. We get hit by incoming artillery fire every day – 24/7 you could say," the soldier, dubbed "Pint-sized", says.
"[The Russians] try to assault en masse. Their infantry simply storms into our positions. We return fire and we defend the positions, so when you have shot two or three people, then the others run away in fright," he went on.
This all means the field hospital is also constantly under fire, and yet, the wounded of all sides are aided there, not just Ukrainians but Russian fighters too, even from the notorious Wagner Group, which has been running riot in Bakhmut, according to reports.
Despite the braggadocio from the Kremlin, for the ordinary Russian soldier on the ground, the situation is far from glorious, Mikhail tells AK.
"We're talking about some seriously unhappy, frightened individuals. Most of them have been press ganged - about 90-95 percent of the total. They tell us that they had no choice, that they were forced to go to war," Mikhail said.
Mikhail and his brigade had, last fall, reached his home-town, the Black Sea port city of Kherson – which the Russians pulled out of in November 2022 – after it was liberated.
"I saw my father, he had remained there alone, even though he is 85 years old. He is waiting for me. I also got to see some friends. It is hard to express these feelings when I returned to my hometown. It is difficult to recognize Kherson now, but we will restore everything to how it was," he said.
The medical commander of the brigade, call sign "Afghan", has been at the front since 2019. He is not interested in self-aggrandizement, however, but instead, praise for the whole team.
"Here is one of our legendary doctors, "Yoda" – the most courageous medic you could meet. Sometimes you have to get tough with him, as he's known to sally forth when there's no need to. But he has a big heart, and he wants to help everyone he cane," Afghan says of a colleague.
Yoda himself tells of a junior sergeant, call-sign "AK-47", who managed to reach the field hospital several hours after picking up an injury.
"Initially, he tried to leave the front lines under his own steam, and he tried to keep going for as long as possible. Next, one of his friends, call-sign 'Gypsy', came to his aid and carried him further. 'Gypsy' then contacted us via signals, telling us they had a wounded soldier, so we arranged an RV point with them," Yoda said.
As to how he got injured, AK-47 said: "A mortar round, probably a 120mm one. While I dived into the trench, my leg was sticking out, so that's how I got hit."
'Afghan' also gave some insight into the realities of working in a real-life field hospital.
"The patients are like children. They are helpless, they are relying wholly on you. They look into your eyes and put their lives in your professionalism and your hands. Of course no one wants to die. Sometimes I see the eyes of they wounded soldiers in my dreams."
At a meeting Sunday with U.S. President Joe Biden held on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy rejected claims from Moscow that Bakhmut had fallen, though added that the Russians had in effect razed it to the ground.
The original AK slot (in Estonian, Ukrainian and Russian) is here.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael
Source: Aktuaalne kaamera