Doctors treat wounded soldiers at a frontline military hospital in Donetsk region, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues


  • A Ukrainian medic said Russian snipers are hunting down medical workers in the battlefield
  • Russian forces are destroying civilian ambulances, according to a report
  • At least 101 medical workers have been killed thus far in the Russian invasion, according to WHO

Russian forces are targeting Ukrainian medics despite protections under international humanitarian law.

In a video posted by the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, a Ukrainian medic said in an interview that he removes any signs showing that he is a medical worker because people like him are "primary targets" for Russian snipers.

"When I go to the vanguard, I take off any signs that show I'm a medic. All crosses and all chevrons because medics are the primary targets of Russian snipers," combat medic Andrii Sichka said.

"They are literally hunting down medics," he added.

The video also showed injured Ukrainian troops being taken in armored vehicles, as civilian ambulances were being "destroyed immediately" by Russian troops.

Attacks against medical personnel are prohibited under Rule 25 of the Geneva Convention, which states that "medical personnel exclusively assigned to medical duties must be respected and protected in all circumstances."

Russia and Ukraine are both signatories to the international conventions.

But despite the Geneva Convention, Russian forces didn't spare medical workers in its attacks against Ukraine.

Data from the World Health Organization's Surveillance System for Attacks on Health Care revealed that between Feb. 24, 2022, and Feb. 14, 2023, there were 764 attacks against Ukraine's healthcare system.

Of the 764 recorded attacks, 678 targeted healthcare facilities, 88 attacks were aimed at medical transport vehicles, 191 impacted medical supplies and 62 were aimed at medical personnel.

The WHO data also showed that 101 medical workers were killed and 131 were injured thus far in the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

According to the latest reported attack against Ukraine's healthcare system, a healthcare facility was attacked on Jan. 23 using heavy weapons, but no one was killed or injured in the incident.

The Russian attacks are forcing medical workers to flee, according to Christopher Stokes, the Doctors Without Borders emergency coordinator in Ukraine.

Stokes told The Washington Post that the attacks targeting medical personnel led to thousands of Ukrainians having no access to healthcare services, such as primary care, psychological treatment and medical supplies.

"A lady died because she was quite old and needed her hypertension medication and felt sick, but we just couldn't evacuate her and no one was there to help her," Stokes said.

Stokes described the scenes at the frontlines, saying that Ukrainians live in "appalling hygienic conditions" and hospitals are only "half-functioning."

Adding to the hardships faced by the medical workers on the battlefield are the continuous shelling, lack of medical personnel and blackouts due to Russian strikes on Ukraine's energy facilities.

According to Ukrainian Deputy Health Minister Oleksiy Yaremenko, Ukraine would need at least $1 billion to rebuild and restore the medical facilities destroyed by Russia and another $15 billion to build modern healthcare facilities.

Yaremenko said most healthcare-related losses were recorded in Donetsk, Kharkiv, Kherson, Mykolaiv and Kyiv regions.

A doctor takes shelter in the basement of a perinatal centre as air raid siren sounds are heard in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 2, 2022.
A doctor takes shelter in the basement of a perinatal centre as air raid siren sounds are heard in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 2, 2022. Reuters / VALENTYN OGIRENKO