Ukrainian girl, 15, tells how she drove wounded civilians to safety despite being shot in the legs by Russian troops and having to navigate through a minefield
- A Ukrainian teenager was forced to take the wheel after driver was wounded
- The car was fleeing Russian troops in the devastated town of Popasna, Luhansk
- She had to steer through a minefield during 20 mile journey to reach a hospital
- Popasna has seen some of the heaviest fighting as the battle for Donbas rages
A 15-year-old Ukrainian girl drove a car carrying wounded civilians to safety, despite being shot in the legs by Russian troops, it has been revealed.
The brave teenager has told how she had to steer through a minefield during her perilous 20 mile journey to reach a hospital.
She managed to stay in control after Russian soldiers opened fire on her car for a second time, injuring her in the legs.
The girl, who has not been named, was originally a passenger in the car as she fled frontline fighting with three men and another woman.
But the group came under fire as they left the devastated town of Popasna in the contested Luhansk region near the Russian border.
The girl was forced to grab the wheel despite being too young to have a driving licence in Ukraine after an exploding shell seriously injured her driver and another man in the car.
A brave teenager, 15, (above) has told how she had to steer through a minefield during her perilous 20 mile journey to reach a hospital
The girl, who has not been named, was originally a passenger in the car as she fled frontline fighting with three men and another woman
But the group came under fire as they left the devastated town of Popasna in the contested Luhansk region near the Russian border
She managed to stay in control of the car after Russian soldiers opened fire on her car for a second time, injuring her in the legs
She was later filmed talking of her ordeal in the back of an ambulance after reaching the safety of Ukrainian lines.
Luhansk governor Serhiy Haidai posted the video of the girl telling of her nightmare drive on his Telegram channel
The girl who will not be legally allowed to drive in Ukraine until she is 18, said in the video: ‘It was not easy but I had to do it. I could not leave the people under fire.’
The teenager explained: ‘I was travelling in the car with four adults, three men and one woman. I know them but they are not members of my family.
‘We were leaving Popasna when we came under fire from Russian soldiers. Two of the men were hit by shrapnel, one seriously.
‘They were so badly injured that I had to take control of the wheel and drive. I had to drive because it was an emergency. Otherwise they would have bled to death.
‘I had to drive through a minefield. It was impossible. It was like a chessboard. But somehow, I made it through.
‘I saw a dead woman by the side of the road. She was lying by an electricity pole.
‘Then I turned right and the Russians opened fire. I was shot in the legs. There was nothing I could do.
‘And the car stopped too. The engine had been shot up. It had a bullet in the battery. Somehow I got it started again. It was not easy. It was extremely painful to drive.
‘But I had to do something. I could not leave everyone under fire.’
Popasna has been at the centre of some of the heaviest fighting in Luhansk as the battle for the wider Donbas region has raged in recent weeks.
A military drone video posted on a pro-Russian Telegram channel this week revealed that almost every building in the town centre had been hit by artillery or rocket fire.
The drone appears to have been used to assist Russian infantry in hunting down the last Ukrainian defenders of the area.
Private Military Company Wagner mercenaries pose at Popasna, the Sievierodonetsk district of the Luhansk Oblast, eastern Ukraine
Private Russian Mercenaries from the Wagner Group have been spotted operating in Popasna on the front lines of the war in the Donbas
It showed artillery strikes landing close to a trench and at least one Ukrainian soldier fleeing to take shelter in what appears to be a nearby shed.
Russian soldiers, believed to be members of feared Wagner mercenary group, are then shown approaching with one of them hurling grenades towards the shed.
A later segment featured a number of Ukrainian soldiers lying on their stomachs outside before a group of at least six are escorted away into Russian custody with their hands on their heads.
Mr Haidai, the head of the Luhansk Regional Military Administration, said this week: ‘The Russians are not just destroying Popasna. They are removing it from the map of Luhansk region.’