JohninMK wrote:Can someone with Sputnik access cut and paste this please?
Crew of Ukrainian Heli Downed in Botched Azov Rescue Mission Thank Russians for Saving Lives - Video https://t.me/sputniknewsus
A pair of Ukrainian Mi-8 helicopters were shot down while trying to break through Russian and Donetsk People’s Militia lines into the Azov Sea coastal city of Mariupol on Tuesday to evacuate commanders of the neo-Nazi Azov Regiment trapped in the area.
Two Ukrainian helicopter crew members rescued and taken to hospital after their Mi-8 was shot down by a man-portable air defence system outside Mariupol have expressed gratitude to the Russian troops and doctors that saved their lives.
“I was taken away from the helicopter while I was lying down, and brought to a medical facility, presumably. I didn't see. They provided medical assistance, plastered my legs and arm. That is, they didn't let me die. Thank you very much,” gunner Ivan Gavrilenko said, while lying in recovery. The officer suffered multiple shrapnel wounds and severe burns to 55-60 percent of his body.
Flight Engineer Captain Dmitry Burlakov, who appeared to have suffered more serious injuries, simply uttered the words “Thank you.”
Gavrilenko and Burlakov are being treated at a Russian military hospital in Melitopol, about 150 km west of Mariupol. A doctor treating the men said their condition was either stabilizing (in Gavrilenko’s case) or stable (in Burlakov’s) thanks to timely admission to hospital and the provision of qualified assistance.
The crew members’ ill-fated Mi-8, flying out of Dnepro, was shot down on route to the besieged Azov Sea coast city – part of which remains under the control of Ukrainian military remnants, Azov fighters and foreign mercenaries, on 5 April.
Burlakov, an officer of the 16th Separate Army Aviation Brigade of the 8th Army Corps of the Ukrainian Ground Forces, told investigators that the attempt to evacuate Azov’s commanders from Mariupol failed because it was poorly organised.
“Organisation of the mission was not carried out as well as it could have been,” he said.
“On 5 April, at about 4-5 am, we were ordered to fly from the city of Dnepro to a staging area between Dnepro and Mariupol, 20 minutes from the demarcation line,” Burlakov indicated. The officer said his chopper was designated to serve as a backup emergency search and rescue crew, with two Mi-8s flying on ahead of them to Mariupol itself.
“We flew to the staging area, landed, turned off our engines and awaited further instructions. At about 5 am, the commander received an order over the phone to start up,” the engineer said. While they were in the air, the crew received a message that one Mi-8 had been shot down, and were ordered to fly to the crash site –four km beyond the demarcation line. “We flew up, saw smoke rising from the ground from afar. We flew closer and a rocket struck us. I awoke on the ground,” he said.
Burlakov also recalled other details – saying, for example, that the Mi-8 was manufactured in the USSR in 1989, and that the crew were equipped with GPS and night vision goggles.
A third crew member, a navigator named Bogdan, also survived. Commander Lieut Col Vyacheslav Voronoi reportedly perished.
Russian and Donetsk People’s Republic forces are continuing their operation to press Ukrainian army remnants, neo-Nazi Azov fighters and foreign mercs trapped in Mariupol. On Friday, Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said that an MoD analysis of radio communications intercepts determined that in addition to Ukrainian and Russian, at least six other languages, mainly European, were being used by fighters stuck in the city. These were not “defenders of so-called European values, but foreign mercenaries, who have come here to kill Slavs for American dollars while hiding behind a human shield of civilians,” Konashenkov said.
The MoD had previously warned that the rules of warfare do not apply to mercenaries, and that they would be “ruthlessly destroyed” if encountered.
On 4 April, the Russian military called on remaining Ukrainian military units trapped in Mariupol to lay down their arms and evacuate along a humanitarian corridor agreed with the Ukrainian side toward Zaporozhye, promising their safety. The next day, the MoD said that the Ukrainian side had rejected the offer.
Mariupol has witnessed some of the toughest fighting to date in the joint Russian military-Donbass militia campaign in Ukraine. Ukrainian forces and Azov set up their defences right inside residential and industrial areas of the city, turning the battle into a brutal house-to-house slog and causing widespread destruction.
The city’s plight has also been used for propaganda purposes by Ukrainian and Western governments and media, who have accused Russian and Donetsk forces of deliberately targeting civilian infrastructure and even forcibly “deporting” civilians to “filtration camps”. The Russian MoD has vocally dismissed these charges, pointing to civilian eyewitness testimony indicating that Azov fighters were deliberately using civilians as human shields, and even firing on residents trying to evacuate the city.