The fighting and violence in Ukraine is so prolific, hospitals are facing a deluge of civilians, often times arriving with wounds that are foreign to younger doctors. And much like in other conflicts, including in Syria, the Russians are targeting these medical facilities, so far damaging 279, and completely decimating another 19, according to the Ukrainian health minister.
CNN’s Jake Tapper visited one hospital in the western part of the country, where patients from the east and south have had to travel hundreds of miles to safely seek treatment.
Olga Zhuchenko survived seven bombs that hit her neighborhood in the Luhansk region, but now lies in a hospital bed and may never walk again.
“I have lost everything. I have lost my flat, my property, my health,” she told CNN via a translator. “We didn’t expect to see it. We always have counted Russians as brotherly people. We never hoped they will exterminate us like that.”
Nearly two months into the conflict, it’s become clear that attacks on civilian neighborhoods — like the one endured by Zhuchenk — are no accident, CNN reported.
“The facts lead to only one conclusion. The Russians are purposely slaughtering Ukrainians. Moms and dads, children, grandparents,” Tapper continued.
Meanwhile, American doctors have traveled to Ukraine, hoping to offer assistance and experience earned during their time in the Middle East.
“We wanted to share information from our experiences in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Dr. John Holcomb, the professor of surgery at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, told Tapper in the hospital.
So brutal are the injuries being sustained by Ukrainian civilians that local doctors are confronted with cases unlike any they’ve ever seen.
“The injury that we have now is unbelievable,” revealed Dr. Hnat Herych, the chief of surgery at a Ukrainian hospital. He’s seen an influx of thousands of patients and has a message to share.
“I want the world to know that they need to know that the Russian forces, they don’t fight with the Ukrainian army, they fight with the Ukrainian people,” he told Tapper. “They killing civilians, they killing children, they destroying our country.”
And the war is hurting Ukrainians in many ways, outside of just with bullets and bombs.
Olha Akynshyn was forced to celebrate her 45th birthday from a hospital bed, having suffered a major car accident while fleeing the Kharkiv region with her husband and son.
“We had a happy life. Everything was perfect and then everything changed very abruptly,” she told Tapper via a translator.
After hiding in a basement for a month, amid relentless shelling, Akynshyn and her family made the decision to get in their car and flee when the building next door was flattened. She had not slept for two days and was in a horrific car accident.
“We were so afraid, especially our kid was so afraid that we couldn’t stay anymore,” she said.
Now Akynshyn isn’t sure she’ll ever be able to return to her old town or her old life.
“The school where my child learned has been destroyed, but I hope if our house stayed safe that we will return, rebuild. Our neighbor will rebuild our village, our town. I love my Ukraine so much, I would only want to live here in Ukraine,” she said.