By Security Committee of the Center for Geostrategic Studies
Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the amount of wounded AFU soldiers has been growing. Kyiv is not disclosing the exact losses of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, yet the footage displayed in the media shows a huge amount of wounded coming from the frontline. Frequent use of artillery allows the Russian Army to cause significant damage. As a result of artillery battles sanitary losses of Ukraine are tremendous. Moreover, due to the specifics of artillery damage, many of the wounded have burns, shrapnel wounds and barotrauma. At the same time, postponed evacuation leads to the development of infected pathogens and various supportive infections.
Actively helping Ukraine with weapons and finances, as well as launching a program to receive refugees, the EU at the beginning of the war paid less attention to helping treat the wounded. However, quite soon, when the Ukrainian healthcare system and military medicare systems were almost paralyzed, the EU had to take care of the Ukrainian wounded. One of the first hospitals where mass hospitalization of fighters from Ukraine began was the Luizenhospital in Aachen (Germany), where more than 100 Ukrainian soldiers were treated by the beginning of December 2022.
In most cases, these are people with complex injuries, complicated by blood poisoning, bone fractures and other injuries. Recently shown on Moldavian TV channels, the film “With Your Own Eyes” tells about the wounded, who ended up in Germany, and their frontline stories. For many of them, according to the doctors, this hospital in Aachen was the last chance to survive. Crushed bones, broken nerve fibres, blood poisoning after a long evacuation for many of them, for example, a fighter of the Armed Forces of Ukraine named Feldman, meant that they could only survive thanks to long-term anti-infection therapy, a weekly course of which cost more than 10,000 euros. Given the large number of complex injuries in the fighters of the Armed Forces of Ukraine evacuated to the EU, experimental treatment protocols are actively being tested on them.
In the abovementioned interview with Moldovan journalists, Feldman said that he was given a new, experimental drug, not yet certified in the European Union. That is caused by lack of experience with such kinds of wounds, and, on the other hand, serves to recoup the huge costs of the treatment by contributing to medical research. Moreover, the difficult sanitary situation in Ukrainian hospitals is forcing Ukraine’s partners to study the effect of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which in the field of front-line medical centres are killing more and more Ukrainian soldiers. At the same time, medical missions on the territory of Ukraine itself are becoming more dangerous due to incessant shelling. The US has scaled back its network of research labs and some of the medical research is being moved to Germany.
However, the EU’s colossal spending on Ukraine should bring some benefits to the European states. Moreover, it is obvious that a couple more months of confrontation in the context of Russia’s buildup of its artillery and missile power will lead to the need to open the doors of more hospitals for the Ukrainian wounded. For the opportunity to survive, many of them will have to go through expensive treatment and rely on the professionalism of the doctors and local funding.
The exact number of Ukrainian wounded in the EU is unknown. In fact, this is has two sides to it: if it is admitted that their number is relatively small, it would mean that Europe willingly helps with weapons, but is not ready to deal with the wounded. If it is proudly announced about tens of thousands of hospitalizations in European hospitals, many questions will arise. Firstly, this would be an indirect recognition of the huge losses of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Secondly, as those people with the most difficult cases who are sent to hospitals in the EU and Germany and need expensive treatment, which is provided at the expense of the EU citizens. Even a hundred wounded at Luizenhospital, receiving extremely expensive therapy, in need of prosthetics, artificial bones and other expensive medical procedures, would cost the Germans, or rather the EU budget, a dozen or two million euros.
In addition, in recent months, the load on European hospitals has most likely increased due to “foreign volunteers”, which are appearing more and more on the Ukrainian fronts. Back in November 2022, Poland began to admit losses among the “volunteers” who went to defend Ukraine. However, Warsaw is silent about sanitary losses. Meanwhile, they are probably large, while the Poles clearly prefer to evacuate their wounded to Poland instead of leaving them in overcrowded Ukrainian hospitals.
Thus, almost 11 months of military confrontation between Russia and Ukraine have already passed. The EU and Washington have numerous programs of military and financial assistance to Kyiv, but there is no unified system for rapid evacuation of the wounded who need serious treatment, however, even without this, the burden on European hospitals is increasing.
Previously published by the Center for Geostrategic Studies here.