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Russian troops in Ukraine critically low on medical supplies, reliant on volunteers in Belgorod region

Russian field hospitals and front-line units are suffering from a drastic shortage of drugs and medical supplies, especially those necessary for treating the wounded. They have to rely on volunteer assistance for life-saving medicines and hygiene items. As The Insider found out, Russian volunteers are shipping supplies for the army to the Belgorod region and then further, “beyond the ribbon” – into the war zone in Ukraine – with reinforcements departing for the front.

A shortage of pharmaceuticals and the inaccessibility of adequate first aid on the front line may have determined the heavy losses sustained by Russian troops.

Telegram chats with requests for supplies:  drugs and medical supplies (left, with a remark ‘Urgent’), tick repellent (center), clothes and equipment (right)
Telegram chats with requests for supplies: drugs and medical supplies (left, with a remark ‘Urgent’), tick repellent (center), clothes and equipment (right)

If volunteer chats are any indication, either the Ministry of Defense is not allocating any drugs or medical supplies or the numbers of the wounded are much higher than anticipated. The list of drugs and hygiene items in short supply is growing longer by the day. In one of the latest messages, coordinators report acute shortages of the most basic supplies and drugs, like gauze bandage rolls and antibiotics.

Field medics are in desperate need of tourniquets, bandage rolls, hemostatic sponges, analgesics, antiemetic drugs, suture material, and many more. Field hospitals are lacking critical surgical equipment: alligator forceps, wound retractors for thoracic surgery, and surgical scissors. Volunteers have also had to launch a fund-raising campaign for Peuracan A, a chest drainage kit sold at 80,000 rubles (~$1,100) for two pieces.

An invoice for surgical supplies (left) and a call to raise money for the procurement of Pleuracan® A, a chest drainage kit, which is currently in short supply (right)
An invoice for surgical supplies (left) and a call to raise money for the procurement of Pleuracan® A, a chest drainage kit, which is currently in short supply (right)

Russian soldiers in Ukraine are lacking clothing and footwear, radio equipment, headlamps, and even tick repellents – while getting a tick bite in the area may result in such dangerous conditions as tick-borne encephalitis and Lyme disease. Volunteers call on the general public to supply troops with repellent sprays and suggest “buying all affordable cans you can get your hands on” and sending them “beyond the ribbon”.

Earlier, Lyudmyla Denisova, Ombudsman for Human Rights in Ukraine, reported numerous cases of the Russian military coercing university students to donate blood for their wounded comrades in arms in the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.

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