War in Ukraine: 'The situation now is a massacre' | War in Ukraine
Neither Ukraine nor Russia disclose the exact number of their soldiers who are dead or wounded.
The human cost of this war remains largely invisible. A secret well kept by both sides. A fact that is as tactical as it is crucial to maintain the morale of the troops and the population. Overview of the indices of the price that the Ukrainians are paying in this war.
An ambulance arrives in the courtyard of the hospital. Its blue flashing lights are flashing. Perhaps a soldier wounded at the front, and rushed to Dnipro.
This city is a bit like the gateway to Donbass, a relatively safe rear base, to which a good number of soldiers wounded in hot zones, such as Bakhmout or Vulhedar, are sent.
Impossible to approach the ambulance. The Ukrainian army refuses to show the state of the soldiers evacuated from the front. Similar ambulances, we come across several a day in Dnipro.
However, we are invited to one of the five hospitals in the city which frequently receives the wounded. From 10 to 30 per day, depending on the staff. A constant stream. For months.
The elevator doors open to a quiet floor. We are guided down a long corridor. Some doors are ajar: soldiers recuperate on small beds.
All the personnel are tired, says surgeon Vadym Sergeyevich. He works 10 to 12 hours a day. Hours that can stretch with emergencies. I never stay home long.
Vadym Sergeyevich works tirelessly to help injured soldiers who arrive at his hospital.
He mainly sees wounds caused by shrapnel. Sometimes there are severe injuries to the abdomen, chest or even the neck. But it's mostly in the arms and legs.
Vadym Sergeyevich sees the ravages of artillery on the human body up close. Bullets and shrapnel pierce skin, shatter bones. And that's not counting the damage caused by the explosion of an anti-personnel mine.
With the war, a surgeon accustomed to the medical problems of a society at peace had to s 'adjust. At first it was difficult. It was very depressing. Sometimes the guys are very messed up. It's hard to watch them.
The 38-year-old doctor won't say how many patients don't survive their injuries.
“War or not, we're doing medicine . No one can order a wounded person to live. [Losing one] is a very difficult experience. »
— Vadym Sergeyevich, surgeon
Oleksiy was lucky to survive the attack on the vehicle he was riding in.
Our military hosts allow us to chat with two soldiers who were slightly injured. By chance, one of them speaks French. The result of a stint in the Foreign Legion. Oleksiy deserted upon hearing news of the Russian invasion a year ago. I had to, he explains, placing a hand over his heart. I am Ukrainian. Passport and heart.
Well muscled, the soldier smiled a little. He sits on a bed and looks back on this end of the day of Valentine's Day. The moment his vehicle was hit by an anti-tank grenade near Donetsk.
During the explosion, you only see the lights. And you feel the temperature around you. I thought I was dead. It took him a few moments to realize he was wrong.
I got out of the vehicle. I couldn't see. I thought I had lost my sight. But after a minute, I saw the stars. Oleksiy quickly called for help. Slightly injured, he was able to help his comrades.
Oleksiy has not yet told his relatives. Don't upset my family, he laughs. I'm still alive, right?
Alive like Yevheniy, whose body was hit by several shrapnel during a Russian attack near Bakhmout. He considers himself lucky. And knows he is marked by the intensity of the fighting.
Yevheniy was wounded near Bakhmout, where the fighting is particularly fierce.
In the last few days, we all said "goodbye". We said goodbye to life. There were so many explosions. Our hands were shaking. It was hard to handle his weapon.
A week later, he says he has difficulty finding the words to explain what he has been through. The ferocity of the artillery attacks. Their deafening sound. By comparison, the fighting in 2015 [during the initial Russian invasion] was a piece of cake.
Despite the risks and the pain, the two men want to return to the front as soon as possible. If every wounded goes home, who will stay on the front? asks Oleksiy. Already, we are not much compared to Russia. We can't go back.
Graves are multiplying in the cemetery near Dnipro.
Western analysts estimate at least 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers dead, wounded or captured in the past year. Among Russians, this number would be at least twice as high.
In December, the Ukrainian presidency put the number of deaths at 13,000. An estimation. And that was before the recent escalation in fighting. The two soldiers no longer count the number of comrades in arms they have lost. Of course, they only have a very partial view of the true number of victims.
The situation now is a massacre, says Oleksiy, in contact with companions elsewhere at the front. It's the same everywhere. And it's on both sides. It cannot be said that these are only Russian losses.
It is quite a shock when one of them is killed, agrees Yevheniy. Especially if we enlisted at the same time. You come back alive, but not him? It's impossible to look your mother in the eye… Impossible.
This shock is clearly visible in the Krasnopilske cemetery, on the outskirts of Dnipro. This is where a good number of soldiers are buried. Those who come from here, but also those whose remains could not be identified or returned to relatives.
The wind was strong during our visit. Dozens of yellow and blue flags flutter furiously in the wind. Added to this sad soundtrack is the sound of a mechanical shovel.
Each day, the employee digs a few more holes. About twenty are empty during our visit. On the crosses, the age of the dead. 19 years old. 23 years. 27. A youth mown down by war.
A woman is trudging through thick mud. Young adults support her by the arms. It is a mother walking towards the grave of a son. His face is marked with pain. The mother has only a few meters to cross. Each step seems so difficult, painful. Like this reality that catches up with her in front of a modest cross surrounded by flowers.