As Russia continues to shell Ukraine and bombard its positions, a unique case has come to light in the Ukrainian media. One of the many ordnance fired by Russian troops hit a Ukrainian soldier in the chest, but here’s a twist: it never exploded!
On January 9, Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Defense announced on social media that the military doctors in the country had performed a unique surgery, retrieving an unexploded VOG-25 grenade out of a soldier’s body, Ukrainska Pravda reported.
The Deputy Defense Minister wrote, “Not every wound to the heart is fatal! Military doctors operated to remove an unexploded VOG grenade from the body of a serviceman.”
Andrii Verba, one of the most skilled surgeons in the Ukrainian Armed Forces (AFU), performed the procedure. The announcement further noted that no electro-coagulation was used because the grenade may have exploded at any time. Two sappers or combat engineers were present to ensure the safety of surgeons.
It is worth mentioning here that electro-coagulation is a process that involves heating aberrant tissue, like a tumor or other lesion, using an electric current. If the process had been employed in the surgery, the grenade might have exploded, killing the soldier and fatally injuring the surgeons.
The grenade that the surgeons retrieved, the VOG-25, is a 40mm caliber designed to be fired from grenade launchers mounted on assault rifles.
It can be used to engage enemy personnel up to 400 meters away who are exposed and the personnel who are concealed inside open engineer installations, on reverse slopes of the terrain, and inside military hardware (vehicles, launchers, etc.).
The VOG-25 grenade also includes variations such as the VOG-25P, VOG-25M, and VOG-25PM. However, the one that hit the Ukrainian soldier was not specified.
The VOG-25PM provides a grenade air burst at the height of 0.5 to 1.5 meters above the ground, allowing for the destruction of enemy manpower in trenches, ditches, and other exposed engineer installations. These grenades were produced in the Soviet era and inducted into service by the Red Army in the 1970s.
This may also be evidence that Russia has resorted to using Cold War-era munition to pound Ukraine as its modern shells deplete with extensive use. The fact that these grenades are launched from assault rifles points to an attack carried at a close range, as has been the case in Eastern Ukraine, where Russia has intensified its offensive.
The Deputy Defense Minister did not specify the date of this unique and extremely rare surgery. However, Maliar stated that the surgical intervention went well, and the injured serviceman was sent for further rehabilitation and recovery. The identity of the soldier was also not disclosed.
A Miraculous Surgery But Not The First Of Its Kind
In 2006 eastern Afghanistan, a region neighboring Pakistan home to some al Qaeda and Taliban forces also witnessed a similar incident. The militants ambushed a US company based in Afghanistan, and a volley of rocket-propelled grenades rained down on the troops.
An RPG moves at the speed of a bullet and is about the length of a baseball bat. The warhead, a sizable grenade, is located in the front. The shaft houses both the detonator and the fuel. Its fins are metal protrusions on the back that resemble the legs of a tripod for a camera.
A soldier’s lower abdomen was penetrated by an RPG that reached from hip to hip. Everyone within 30 feet of him would perish if the RPG went off.
The soldier was, somehow, transported out and brought to a base hospital where he was operated on. The RPG’s tail fins were gently removed by a surgeon using a strange tool: a hacksaw. Inches from the soldier’s beating heart, the surgeons reached in and steadied the still-deadly rocket.
The rocket was carefully lowered into the air with the explosive pointed at the surgeon’s flak jacket. The surgery went into hours and was a success.
In another such case in 2014, a pregnant woman with a cut on her left cheek was admitted to the military hospital at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan. After initial treatment failed to relieve her, the hospital doctors suspected it was a bullet inside her skull.
The surgical team covered their scrubs with flak jackets, safety helmets, and goggles. To reduce the fire risk, they did not give the patient the customary oxygen-enriched air supply throughout the procedure. They also avoided using electrocautery equipment because it might create an explosion. The bullet was retrieved, and the surgery was a success.
The identification and surgical retrieval of unexploded ordnance are rare but have been recorded on battlefields worldwide. Ukraine, therefore, is not the first to record such an incident. However, it does show the skills of Kyiv’s military surgeons.
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