A wounded Ukrainian soldier who was surrounded by bloodthirsty Russian troops while stranded in a Bakhmut trench incredibly called in an artillery strike on his own position in the ultimate act of bravery.
Infantryman Serhii, 36, has been left with irretrievable pieces of shrapnel buried deep inside his legs – but miraculously he has survived.
Just over a month on from seemingly sacrificing himself for his country, the Ukrainian hero told CNN: ‘I can’t believe that now I’m in the hospital, not in the trench. I did not think I would survive.’
Serhii’s 80th Air Assault Galician Brigade had been ordered to protect the trenches on the eastern front line on the outskirts of Bakhmut – an embattled Ukrainian city which has been the epicentre of some of the war’s bloodiest conflicts.
They were assigned to hold the trenches for three days but were left facing intense enemy fire for two weeks. For some of his comrades, it was the last mission they carried out.
Ukrainian soldier Serhii (pictured), 36, has been left with irretrievable pieces of shrapnel buried deep inside his legs – but miraculously he survived
Serhii, 36, was surrounded by Russian troops for weeks and even called in artillery strikes on his own position
The unit had come under relentless shelling for several days when a mortar exploded nearby, cutting Serhii and two other men off just as they were about to change position.
Serhii, who left his life as a handyman in Finland to enlist in the Ukrainian army when Russia launched invaded in February 2022, revealed how they were all left severely injured – and that he even had to touch his legs to check if they were still there.
The other two were left with broken legs and jaws, with one left so traumatised that he asked to kill himself, so his weapon was confiscated from him.
In another show of courage, Serhii told the evacuation team to take the other injured soldiers first while he waited for more aid.
Multiple rescue teams attempted to reach Serhii over the next two weeks but severe Russian shelling left them unable to reach his position, with some killed while trying.
Confined to his trench, Serhii was carefully dropped off supplies including water, medicine, chocolate and even cigarettes using a drone.
At the same time, Putin’s men were using drones to drop off grenades next to the Ukrainian soldier. It blew up next to another soldier’s back and near to his own feet but they were ‘lucky to survive’.
‘It was possible to evacuate only one critically injured soldier. So at that moment I realised I was alone,’ he recalled.
In another show of courage, Serhii (pictured) told the evacuation team to take the other injured soldiers first while he waited for more aid
The only thing left for Serhii to do was to take cover in his dugout for as long as he could. For three days he hid as Russian troops closed in on his position. They were so close to him that he could hear them speak and knew their plan.
Accepting that it was likely he would be killed anyway, Serhii whispered the coordinates of the enemy to his commander, effectively calling in artillery strikes on his own position.
Kyiv forces carried out several accurate strikes thanks to Serhii’s bravery but the Russian soldiers continued to close in around him.
‘I was surrounded by enemies,’ Serhii recalled. ‘When they couldn’t hear me, I whispered the coordinates again on the radio and our artillery fired at them.’
Serhii thought he had been compromised when a Russian soldier climbed into his dugout and asked where he was from.
The Ukrainian replied in Russian and said that he was concussed and needed water urgently. The Russian chose not to give him water but crawled back out of the trench, seemingly unaware that Serhii was part of the enemy.
Serhii is still confused how the Russian soldier did not work out who he was fighting for given he was dressed in his Ukrainian army uniform.
After days of desperate attempts to evacuate Serhii, his commander eventually told him the only way to survive was to crawl and pray.
As he fled for his life, he crawled through the dugout where Russians had occupied. He stumbled across a tripwire with a grenade on it and was relying on instructions from his commander over a radio which was on the verge of running out of battery.
Serhii finally reached the Ukrainian position and has now been able to share his incredible survival story.
As he recovers from the trauma from the trenches in a warm hospital ward, he still does not see his actions as something heroic.
Pictured: Ukrainian soldiers pass by a volunteer bus burning after a Russian drone hit it near Bakhmut on November 23
He said that those on the front line are ‘paying a very high price’. ‘They pay with their blood,’ he added.
‘All I want is to do is go fishing with my dudes, drink some beers and sit in silence’.
Months of World War One-style trench warfare resulted in thousands of deaths on both sides in Bakhmut – and Russia’s eventual capture of the Ukrainian city in May.
Russian forces are now intensifying attacks on the eastern Ukrainian city of Avdiivka, with fighting reminiscent the battle for Bakhmut.