Even Ukraine’s badly wounded warriors want to get back in the fight

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As Russia’s war in Ukraine grinds on after more than five months of vicious fighting, casualties are mounting on both sides. Thousands of Ukrainian soldiers have suffered life-changing injuries, but many tell CBS News they’re determined to continue defending their country if they can.

CBS News senior foreign correspondent Holly Williams visited a rehabilitation center in western Ukraine trying to help some of the warriors recover. The men she met said they wanted America’s help to heal, so they can get back on the battlefield.

Many lost limbs fighting off Russia’s invasion. Now they’re rebuilding their bodies and their minds.

Ukrainian army Captain Danylo Ishchenko speaks with CBS News senior foreign correspondent Holly Williams at a rehabilitation center in the west of Ukraine. CBS News

“It was a big pain, but also it was a big shock,” Captain Danylo Ishchenko told CBS news. He said he lost his leg to a Russian mortar during intense fighting last month around Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv.

“I am a warrior, and it’s not very important — warrior with iron leg or natural leg,” he told Williams. “I will fight.”

He’s already learning to ride horses as part of his therapy, and he said his next goal was to complete a biathalon.

Major Viktor Deineka told CBS News he lost both of his legs to a Russian missile on February 24, the first day of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of his country.

Major Viktor Deineka told CBS News he lost both of his legs to a Russian missile on February 24, the first day of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. CBS News

Without adequate first aid equipment, he said he managed to improvise a tourniquet from his own belt, to stop the loss of blood, and possibly save his own life.

He’s been fitted with temporary prosthetics, but told Williams he recently had a fall, because he was trying to move too quickly on them. He laughed when she noted to him that he’d literally tried to run before he could walk.

Ukraine’s military heroes are as stoical and determined as their country, but many Williams and her team met at the rehab center were hoping America might lend them a hand. They’d love access to the kind of top-quality prosthetics and world class rehabilitation wounded American troops might get.

Satellite images show more damage to Russian air base attacked in Crimea 04:57

Captain Ishchenko told CBS News there’s another reason he’d like to go to the U.S.

“I want to learn more about drones, about battle drones,” he told Williams.

He wants to be trained up by the American military to fly drones, so he can come back home and use the weapons against Russia.

Ukraine and its people are undoubtedly battle scarred, but they are not broken.

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