“I will not stay in a wheelchair”: the story of a marine with a spinal cord injury who defended Mariupol

“I will not stay in a wheelchair”: the story of a marine with a spinal cord injury who defended Mariupol

“I will not stay in a wheelchair”: the story of a marine with a spinal cord injury who defended Mariupol | Ukrainian truth _Life


He, like all the wounded from the factory, was taken prisoner, but due to his difficult condition, he was exchanged in a month and a half.

“UP.Zhyttia” learned how Rostyslav held on in the occupiers’ lair, learned to take the first steps a second time and what plans he has for the future.

Next is his direct speech.

Service before a full-scale invasion

I joined the army at the age of 19. He graduated from school, wiped his pants in a bursa (college – ed.). Studied as a mechanic in car and engine repair.

Once, the military came to the technical school to campaign for a contract. It was 2016, when the anti-terrorist operation continued. I watched TV, followed the news and wanted to somehow influence the situation. So I agreed to serve under the contract: signed for 3 years.

First, I went to study – there was a full course for a young fighter, I received the profession of a grenade launcher. Then the military came and “recruited” to various brigades. I chose the 36th Marine Brigade.


I had a cool platoon leader with the call sign “Mark”. I admired him, all the boys respected him. I aspired to become like him – he was the best example of a commander in my 6 years of service.

When the contract ended, I decided to try to live a civilian life. I did not succeed. So in 2020, he re-signed the contract. Served in Mariupol.

Rostyslav is on duty. Photo from the archive

At the peak of the pandemic, I refused to be vaccinated, and because of this I was not accepted for rotation – the battalion was in the OOS, and I wore uniforms in Mariupol.

It was a crazy schedule: before February 24, I wore the outfit 4 days in a row, and then it was supposed to be my 4 days off. But in the morning the commander called me and told me to pack my things because the war had started. My weekend hasn’t come.

After his call, many people called me: acquaintances, friends, family. I told them that we are in place and will maintain the defense.

And my own brother called. I remember that he asked what was going on, because the situation was difficult. I told him that no one but us will help us. The next day, all my childhood friends and my brother went to TrO.


For the first five days, he processed the mobilized in the unit. But the Russians were already starting to encircle Mariupol, so I was hired to make defensive points.

The guys and I went to reinforce one of the positions.

March 13 was a strange day – the Russians did not attack us until 10 in the morning, although they usually opened fire at 6. Due to the lull, the commanders went to get BC (combat kits – ed.) and food. Suddenly the assault began – the enemy covered our positions with artillery.

I ran to the shelter and fell a meter away from it. The shrapnel hit my back and hit my spinal cord – I couldn’t move. After the shelling, I was taken to the 555th military hospital.

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I stayed there for only a day, because just at night the occupiers launched an airstrike on the hospital. It was destroyed, and it was impossible to stay there, so all the wounded were evacuated to factories. One group for “Azovmash”, the other for “Azovstal”.

These factories were located in opposite parts of the city, between which the river ran. The seriously wounded, like me, were transported to “Azovstal” so that they could then get to the big land with “pinwheels” (propeller wings – ed.).

But at “Azovstal” there were even heavier 300s than me. Maybe it was for the best, because now I’m alive.

“Azovstal” and capture

At first it was more or less at the plant, because the left bank of Mariupol was still a little bit ours. There were some stores from which leftovers were brought. Several times we were delivered snacks such as chips and crackers

And I remember that you could take a glass of honey! I don’t know where the guys got it, but it was incredible. This lasted for several weeks, and then the occupiers pierced our bunker with a ship’s shell.

The kitchen fell asleep, the food became many times worse. we ate a can of canned sardines at three in the morning, and in the evening we brought a glass of porridge, and sometimes there was a piece of lard.

Thus passed another week of heavy shelling. I heard from the boys that there was another shelling from the ship’s artillery: the projectile penetrated up to 4 meters of reinforced concrete and did not explode. I was lying under him.

Photo from the Recovery rehabilitation center

At that time, there was already a critical situation with medicines in the medical bunker – especially there was a lack of painkillers. Surgeons probably saved people with the power of space.

When the order came to lay down arms, I was one of the first to be evacuated. We were brought to Novoazovsk for the night. On a pleasant note, they gave a piece of bread with condensed milk. But there were interrogations before and after.

One of them asked where I was from, and when he heard that I was from the Rivne region, he angrily asked: “So you are a hereditary fascist?”. I had enough strength to remain silent, but the thought flashed by that when I got out, I would make myself such a chevron.

The doctors there offered me an operation, but I refused – it’s a complicated spinal injury (spinal cord), and I didn’t trust them either. I could move my arms and a bit of my body, but the rest of my body wouldn’t obey me.

I didn’t know when I would get to Ukraine, I understood that I didn’t have much time if I wanted to get back on my feet.

I was oppressed by the fact that I cannot influence, and my position depends on people and the state. Fortunately, I was exchanged in the first month and a half.

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On June 29, I returned to Ukraine. It was a feeling that cannot be expressed in words. My relatives came to see me, and they gave me strength and motivation for further rehabilitation.

I was worried about my brother because I hadn’t heard from him since February 24. Unfortunately, he died.

Back surgery was performed in Dnipro, and then the long road to recovery began. First, I stayed in “Feofania” in Kyiv, where I stayed for only 5 days, and then I was transferred to the Chebotaryov Institute of Gerontology.

I couldn’t do anything then. They told me: we are bending your leg now, and you just imagine that you are doing it yourself. Specialists worked with me for about 4 months, and later they offered to continue in the city of Pleven in Bulgaria. There I took my first steps.

Rostislav can already walk on his own

The first steps at the age of 26 cause the same joy as a small child. I wanted to tell everyone about it!

I thought that if I was lucky enough to survive, I would not be confined to a wheelchair. It won’t be me if I don’t make the most of myself.

I am currently undergoing rehabilitation at the Recovery Center. Before that, he tried to walk on crutches on his own, but it was very difficult.

Now I can already walk 2.5 km a day. With breaks, of course. But I want to do everything to eliminate the wheelchair from my life.

And I also want to get a job. Because it is necessary to inform, help the state and the boys – all for the sake of Victory.

Victoria Andreeva, UP. Life

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