the stunning testimony of a Franco-Ukrainian physician who went to the entrance | EUROtoday

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” VSThis is not a simple territorial war. The Russians don't just want to destroy the Ukrainian state, they want to exterminate the Ukrainian people and I weigh my words carefully. » Arsène Sabanieev knows what he is talking about. He lived in Ukraine until he was 9 years old before moving to France where he became an anesthetist-resuscitator in Lille. Since February 2022, he has increased his travels to Ukraine to treat wounded soldiers. “I never left Ukraine. I remained very close to my family who are still there,” explains the man who describes himself as “a fervent patriot” and a “(very) French-speaking Ukrainian”.

The thirty-year-old doctor has long warned of the risk of seeing his native country disappear because of Russia. “I understood Russia's intention from the Orange Revolution in 2004. From there I started my senseless struggle. At the time, there weren't many of us. Now the eyes of the world are on us. »

When the Russians launched their large-scale invasion in February 2022, Arsène Sabanieev was in Ukraine, on vacation with his partner. A hasty return to France “to make her safe” and very quickly the need to return there. “It was action that motivated me,” he explains. He has just published a book Liberty or death (Robert Laffont) in which he recounts his experience as a doctor in a war zone. We discover a volunteer eager for commitment, seeking to make himself useful at all costs.

In Bakhmut's hell

When he arrives in kyiv in spring 2022, he first gets a cold shower. He who hoped that his skills would be expected is finally wandered from one hospital to another, without being able to make himself fully useful as he hoped. ” I’m dissatisfied. I got here to look after my compatriots, to satisfy my patriotic responsibility however everybody refuses my help,” laments the adopted Lille resident.

Finally, Arsène Sabanieev joined the hospital workers, a “moral” dedication, with out pay. His job: to supply first support to the injured and evacuate them to the rear. During his missions, he went to Vuhledar, close to Donetsk, to Lyman but additionally “to the hell of Bakhmout”. There is not any scarcity of labor there. “On a calm day, around 150 wounded pass through the forward medical post. During the Ukrainian offensive, the center processes almost twice as many, he says. On the last day in Bakhmout, the atmosphere was very tense. I was the one driving the ambulance with shells falling next to us. We were being bombarded all day, it was very intense and stressful. »

Doctor Sabanieev is categorical: “No one can understand what I experienced in Bakhmut. » It is also there, in “the most dangerous place on earth”, that his companion tells him that he’ll quickly be the daddy of a daughter. Not sufficient to affect his need to remain: “It is for my daughter that I must continue the fight. »

The Lille resident discovers the practices of war medicine, but also his environment. “At the beginning, we feel a little immortal, I didn't realize that I could die. I told myself that statistically there is little chance that I will die. During the second mission, we took a shell directly on our house. At that moment, I realize that it could happen,” he says, explaining that fragments of this shell are nonetheless current in his abdomen.

Arsène Sabanieev was additionally skilled in using weapons. The boundary between physician and fighter then blurs. “A doctor can be a fighter. But it takes a certain amount of experience to say that you are a soldier. “I always felt like I was wearing a military disguise,” till a soldier assured him that he was certainly a fighter, like him.

The darkish facet of humanitarian support

On website, he additionally faces the wanderings and failures of a rustic which instantly finds itself in warfare. “I expected to see the elite of military doctors at Bakhmout, but I found myself facing people who sometimes do not have the level of a first semester intern,” he notes, describing a “ State incapable of properly equipping the men who defended the sovereignty of the country.” He additionally discovers “the dark side of humanitarian aid”, between scams and fictitious associations. “This conflict taught me a lot about the jungle of humanitarian aid,” he wrote. Each time he travels to his native nation, the Franco-Ukrainian physician brings medicines and medical tools collected in Lille the place he works.

With his testimony, Arsène Sabanieev needs to supply one other perspective, commensurate with a Ukrainian who has lived in France for a very long time. Part of his household lives in Crimea, illegally annexed in 2014 by Russia. “They are brainwashed, we no longer have contact with them. I hope to see them again but it will be on a tank in a half-ravaged Sevastopol. »

Today in France, the Lille doctor plans to return to Ukraine “in the spring”. “The battle is as addictive as heroin, so long as you come again in a single piece, he says. The solely purpose I might cease is the destruction of Russia. As lengthy because it exists, I’ll proceed. I’m not combating for the victory of Ukraine, however for the destruction of Russia. »

Liberty or demise, by Arsène Sabanieev, Robert Laffont, 19 euros.