Ukraine war: Hero medic shields woman with his own body

Hero medic shields wounded woman with his OWN BODY as Russian artillery pounds the city of Kharkiv in attack that left at least eight dead

  • Medic Denys Petrenko filmed protecting wounded woman on streets of Kharkiv  
  • Red Cross volunteer had been bandaging her leg wounds after Russian airstrike 
  • As more bombs fell, other medics and troops ran for cover as he stayed to help 
  • Petrenko said he acted ‘on instinct’ but got into trouble with his mother, after telling her that he was a first aid instructor and not on the frontlines 

This is the moment a brave medic used his body to shield a wounded woman from a Russian artillery attack on the city of Kharkiv on Easter Sunday. 

Denys Petrenko, a volunteer with the Kharkiv Red Cross, was helping bandage up the woman’s leg which had been was torn up by shelling just moments before the footage was taken when a second barrage struck.

As fellow medics and members of the Ukrainian territorial defence scrambled for cover in a nearby building, Petrenko remained by the woman’s side and used his own body to shield her from flying pieces of hot metal.

Fortunately he was not wounded and managed to get her to hospital, where she is now recovering. At least five people died and 18 were hurt in the barrage.

Denys Petrenko, a Red Cross volunteer in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, was filmed shielding a wounded woman with his own body during a Russian artillery barrage

Video shows Petrenko remaining by the woman’s side even as territorial defence troops run for cover in a nearby building, as their training teaches them to do

Petrenko said he acted ‘on instinct’ but the video has got him into trouble with his mother, because he had assured her that he wasn’t working on the frontlines

Petrenko told The Sun that he was acting ‘on instinct’ to protect the woman, but that his bravery got him into trouble with his mother because he had lied and told her he was a first aid trainer in field headquarters and not a frontline medic.

‘My mum was really not happy,’ he said. ‘Everyone saw the video and they called her when she was in church.

‘At first she didn’t understand… then she watched it. She said, “Are you crazy! Don’t you care about my nerves?”.’

Petrenko had been on a mission to deliver food and drugs in Kharkiv when the shelling struck, and their van was flagged down so they could provide help.

It was at that moment the Russian artillery hit again, in a so-called ‘double tap’ strike, which are designed to cause maximum casualties. 

The first strike leaves people wounded which then draws out troops and medics coming to their aid. The second strike is designed to kill those first responders.

Kharkiv has been under Russian bombardment since the early days of the war, and has been subjected to some of the fiercest barrages.

One of the first documented uses of cluster munitions – which are banned under international agreements – on civilian areas happened in the city. 

Russian shelling had eased as Putin’s generals directed forces towards the battle of Kyiv, further to the west, but have now stepped up again after that assault failed.

Ukraine says a long-anticipated battle for Donbas – the eastern area of Ukraine comprising Donetsk and Luhansk regions – is now in its opening stages.

Kharkiv, which is one of the closest major cities to the frontlines, has come under renewed attack as a result.

Analysts do not believe that Russia is aiming to capture the city, but that the bombardments are aimed at fixing Ukrainian defenders within its limits so they cannot launch counter-attacks to the east.

Causing civilian casualties also ties up medical resources which could otherwise be dedicated to treating soldiers wounded in the fighting.

The fight for Donbas is likely to be the pivotal battle of the war and will almost certainly decide the future of the conflict.

Russia has massed thousands of troops in a city called Izyum which are expected to battle south towards Mariupol.

At the same time, troops currently battling for control of the port city – which has been holding out for almost two months against heavy attacks – are expected to march northwards once it has fallen.

Russian forces are thought to be bombing Kharkiv in order to pin Ukrainian troops inside the city, who could otherwise launch counter-attacks against their troops nearby

Russia is currently fighting to seize control of Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region having failed in its assault on Kyiv (pictured, damaged cars in Kharkiv)

The aim will be to perform a pincer movement aimed at surrounding Ukrainian troops currently dug into the old frontline where they have been fighting Russian-backed rebels since 2014.

If the mission is a success, the Ukrainians will be cut off from supply routes and could be forced to surrender – taking out a large portion of the country’s army.

Such a victory would be a huge propaganda boost for the Kremlin, would allow Putin to claim his first major victory, and may spur him on to renew attacks on Ukrainian cities further to the west – Mykolaiv, Odesa, and possibly Kyiv once again.

If Ukraine can hold the frontline and repel the Russian assault, it would deny Putin his easiest and possibly last shot at victory.

Having poured men into the offensive, their defeat could leave Russian defensive positions in Crimea and rebel-occupied Donbas vulnerable to counter-attack.

Should those attacks prove successful, Ukraine could start re-taking territory it lost control over during Putin’s last invasion in 2014 which would spell disaster for Kremlin attempts to spin the war in its favour.

Though Putin’s control over the Russian media and population is strong, such a defeat would be hard for even him to cover up and it is debatable whether his regime could survive the fall-out. 

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