Oleksy Molchanov, 20, from Kherson, does not want to return to Ukraine. He enlisted in the army with a friend just before the outbreak of the war, at just 19 years old. When the Russian invasion began on February 24, 2022, his partner died. “I saw my friend jump into the air,” he explains with some shyness and tears in his eyes. He did not stop fighting at the front until he was taken to Spain for treatment.
The young soldier is one of the ten soldiers who have traveled with the team of volunteers led by Sister Lucía Caram, director of the Fundació del Convent de Santa Clara, to Ukraine, after spending months in Barcelona and Madrid recovering from the different injuries caused by war.
I saw my friend jump into the air
Molchanov’s war wound is not physical, but his symptoms correspond to those of severe post-traumatic stress. After his friend was killed in combat, he began to suffer from memory loss, ringing in his ears, and dizziness. A few weeks ago, when they told him that he had to return, he asked to stay in Spain, but his superiors warned him that, if he did, he would be considered a deserter.
Currently, all males between the ages of 18 and 60 must remain in Ukraine and be registered in the Armed Forces census, since they can be called up to join the army at any time. If Molchanov had deserted, he would never have been able to return to the country, where his family still resides, in the occupied zone. Furthermore, if he had not returned, they would have had to recruit someone else, because the army does not stop causing casualties and needs troops, according to the young man’s superiors.
But in war, as in everything, there is diversity. At 40 years old, Volodimir Chernishev has been serving in the Ukrainian Armed Forces for many years. He does want to return to the trenches in Donbass, from where the medical services had to take him out to save his life. “When we picked him up, he was (physically) destroyed,” say Sister Lucía Caram and Henry Peter Kwofie, a volunteer from the Fundació del Convent de Santa Clara.
“For me, now, war is a drug,” says Chernishev, who is convinced to return to the front line in the Donbass region, where the conflict has been entrenched for months and the Russian offensive has intensified. Only he and another soldier want to go back to the place where the Russians almost took their lives. The rest walk across the border with a resigned face.
For me, now, war is a drug
Once they arrive in Ukraine, the soldiers have ten days of vacation, in which some lucky ones will take the opportunity to visit the family. But those who have lost their family and friends in the war still do not know what they will do. When faced with this situation, many prefer to return to the army, because it is all they have left.
However, the fate of these recovered soldiers does not depend on them, nor does it depend on their superior. “A special medical court will determine whether they should return to service or whether they can retire,” says Andrii K., General of the State Border Guard Service. In the case of mutilated soldiers, those who have lost a hand, an arm or a leg, the court can decide to withdraw them once the ten days of vacation have passed. Those who, according to the court, must continue to serve the country, “will not be sent directly to the active front,” according to the general, but will spend three months working at Border Control and, only afterwards, will it be decided where they will go. send them exactly.
In addition to returning soldiers recovered from war wounds, the Fundació del Convent de Santa Clara brought two ambulances, a van, thermal clothing and several generators to Ukraine to alleviate the consequences of recurring power cuts throughout the country. Unlike what happened a few months ago, when power outages could last up to 38 hours, now they last approximately eight. But generators are still essential to provide light and heat in many cities.
The Fundació delivered all the material collected to the Kyiv Border Guard Hospital last Wednesday. In this meeting, the director of the center, Volodímir Lopaichuck, once again asked Sister Lucía Caram for help. “We need two mobile hospitals, prostheses, clothing and antibiotics. Those are the most urgent needs we have. This hospital is well equipped, but we need help on the front line, which is where the most soldiers are dying,” said Lopaichuck, referring to the mobile teams.
“Currently, the hottest areas of the conflict are Bakhmut and Soledar, where mobile hospitals are already operating. We are taking a lot of casualties there. And 80% of deaths are caused by exsanguination”, declared the director of the hospital.
In Bakhmut, 80% of deaths are caused by bleeding
“We promise to mobilize to get two mobile hospitals. If we get 80 ambulances, we can achieve this”, assured Sister Lucía in the meeting held with the high officials of the army. The director of the Fundació assured that she is already in contact with the Minister of Defense of the Government of Spain, Margarita Robles, to negotiate how the Government can help in this situation and promised to give her a firm answer in mid-February.
After the last visit of Margarita Robles to Ukraine, last December, the Government of Spain sent Hawk and Aspide anti-aircraft missile launchers to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, teams that senior officials of the Ukrainian army, present at the meeting, assured have already received