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‘I run, get blown up, fall, and see my leg is gone’ – special forces soldier tells about battles in eastern Ukraine

22 February, 2023 Wednesday
18:33

Mykhailo Matviiv is currently recovering from his injury, preparing for another surgery and fitting for a prosthesis

An Espreso journalist met with the Ukrainian defender. 

Mykhailo Matviiv is a Special Forces soldier with Ukraine's National Guard. He lost his leg during a combat mission. Now he is trying to live a full life and continues to play sports. He is undergoing rehabilitation and wants to return to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. 

“I think it's not such a big loss anymore, and everyone who has been wounded like this should find some positive in it,” Mykhailo is convinced. “Make some plans for yourself in the future. Then it is easier to accept the injury. I treat it like this: I lost one leg, it could have been two, it's not so bad.”

Mykhailo Matviiv is 24 years old. He is from the Lviv region. He volunteered to the National Guard at the age of 18. He was motivated by his friends who had gone to the front since the beginning of the war in 2014. At first he trained, and a few years later he went to the combat zone. Three weeks before the full-scale invasion, Mykhailo just came home for a rotation. And then he returned to the army again.

“A week before the full-scale war, my commanders called me and asked where I was and what I was doing,” the soldier recalls. “They told me to be in touch. I had already realized that I would have to leave soon. I was ready to go to war.”

On March 3, Mykhailo and his unit went to defend the Kyiv region. For the first time he got to Makariv. In this area, they held the defense and repelled enemy attacks. The Russian forces then prevailed in numbers and artillery. According to Mykhailo Matviiv, Makariv was destroyed: houses were destroyed, the Russians did not think about civilians at all, they did not care. They destroyed everything in their path. 

After successful operations in the Kyiv region, Mykhailo performed combat missions in Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Luhansk and Donetsk regions. In December, he was wounded during a combat mission in the Vuhledar area. The task was to clear the territory, gain a foothold and hold the line. Then the soldier stepped on a mine and lost part of his leg.

“We had two sappers with us, they were walking with mine detectors along the planting. There was a road and we had to run from one planting to the other, as there was a short distance to the Russians,” Mykhailo said. “Our engineer ran across, saw one mine, and started clearing it. Next, a sapper ran across, he walked with a mine detector, followed by another comrade from our group. I was the fourth, a machine gunner, who ran to cover them in that direction. While running, I stepped on mine. I was running, it exploded, I fell down, and I saw that I was without a leg. I immediately started screaming from severe pain. My friend and fellow soldier pulled me behind the planting. I took out the turnstile, they were still finishing it. I remember a moment when they had already tightened it, and I said: 'Vitia, tighten it some more, so that I don't bleed out'"

After being wounded, Mykhailo was evacuated. He was lucky that there was no artillery fire at the time and he was taken away almost from the site of the explosion. Now the Ukrainian defender has been recovering from his injury for several months. He has one more surgery ahead, and then a prosthesis. Then he wants to return to the army again, as well as to go in for sports, so that in the future he can take part in the Paralympics.

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