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Ukrainian soldier being treated in Japan vows to fight for his country again

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Anton Kornishuk, a Ukrainian soldier who was seriously injured on the front lines in Ukraine and later received medical treatment in Japan, exercises in a park in Chuo Ward, Chiba, on Friday afternoon.

A Ukrainian soldier who was seriously wounded during Russia’s invasion of his country has undergone surgery and is recuperating in Japan.

It has been 8 months since the invasion’s Feb. 24 start and there are no signs of the conflict ending. But, “I will return home as soon as possible and fight again with my comrades,” said the soldier, Anton Kornishuk.

At a park in Chuo Ward, Chiba, on Friday evening, Kornishuk, 38, was doing his training, using iron bars and other equipment. This is a daily routine that he has undertaken on his own initiative, and is in addition to his rehabilitation program.

It was on March 25, about a month after the invasion began, that he was wounded. In Irpin, near the capital city of Kyiv, he was serving as an army medic, helping citizens evacuate, when he was hit by a blast. He suffered a compound fracture in his right leg and a torn Achilles tendon in his left leg. He was unable to recover despite surgery at a hospital in Kyiv and was transferred to Chiba University Hospital in Chuo Ward, Chiba, in late May.

The surgery he underwent at the university hospital was a success, and he was able to walk again, with a special device attached to his right leg to hold the bone in place. Until he was discharged from the hospital in late August, he talked with his comrades on the battlefield via phone and social media, and thereby roused his spirits.

In the eight months since the invasion began, many people have fallen victim to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. “Targeting civilians is the work of terrorists,” Kornishuk said angrily. Although he has received a number of notifications about his comrades being killed in action, “I don’t want the war to end soon,” he said.

In 2014, Russia unilaterally annexed Crimea in the south of Ukraine. Following this, armed clashes between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian armed groups intensified in the country’s east, before Russia finally launched its current invasion. “Even if the fighting ends as things stand now, we will only see the same thing repeated. So, we must win this battle, no matter how long it may take,” Kornishuk said.

His relatives and close friends remain in his hometown in the southern province of Zaporizhzhia. It is one of the four eastern and southern provinces that Russia claimed to annex earlier this month. Although he hopes to join the fight to retake his old hometown as soon as possible, he says matter-of-factly, “What I can do now is recover.”

He said he wants to repay the kindness extended to him by Chiba University Hospital, which he found through connections from learning Japanese, and those Japanese people who have helped him find a place to live and navigate his daily life after his release from the hospital. “Someday … I want to be of service to Japan,” he said.

His leg brace will be removed in early November. “Ukraine will win for the world, too. I hope that the international community will continue to stand with Ukraine,” he said.