EXCLUSIVE: Relatives of Ukrainian Personnel Wounded in Kerch Strait Incident Speak to Hromadske
26 November, 2018

On November 25, Russian forces open fired on Ukrainian vessels in the Kerch Strait. According to reports, there were 24 naval officers on the three vessels captured by Russia and six were reportedly injured.

In a comment to Hromadske on November 26, Russian Ombudsperson Tatyana Moskalkova stated that three of the wounded Ukrainian naval officers captured yesterday are in a hospital in Kerch.

Russian media later named these three wounded officers as as 27-year-old Vasyl Soroka,  24-year-old Andriy Artemenko and 18-year-old Andriy Eyder.

Hromadske contacted the parents of the officers to find out what they know about the condition and whereabouts of their sons.

Yevhenia Eyder, mother of Andriy Eyder, told Hromadske that the last time she saw her son was when he signed up for the Ukrainian navy. They live in different cities and speak mainly through Facebook.

She says that she first heard of her son’s status during phone call with a Moscow journalist in the morning of November 26.

“I know that he is injured, he is in Kerch, his wounds are light, his condition is stable,” Eyder adds.

Andriy Eyder, Source: Facebook

Andriy Artemenko’s father Anatoliy says that the last time he heard from his son was one and a half weeks ago.

“He didn’t tell me anything, he just said: ‘Dad, watch the TV,’” Andriy’s father told Hromadske.

He adds that he has practically no further information about his son, apart from reports on television and the internet.

“This morning, some woman rang his girlfriend Maryna, she said he was seriously injured and he had either been taken to Kerch or Moscow. They gave me the hotline number, I will ring and confirm,” Artemenko senior said.

Andriy Artemenko, Source: Facebook

Hromadske was also able to speak to Artemenko’s girlfriend Maryna Umanets. She says that she last heard from him on the evening of November 23.

“Before he left he said that they had to relocate the ship to Berdyansk, just to transfer it,” Umanets said, adding that, “He said that they will cross this Kerch bridge. There was some sort of permission for crossing.”

Umanets knows nothing about Artemenko’s condition other than he has a shrapnel wound to the wrist and is currently in a hospital in Kerch.

Similarly, little is known about naval officer Vasyl Soroka’s injuries or condition, except that he is in hospital in Kerch and has had an operation, according to his father Viktor. Soroka had been to visit his father the week before.

“He didn’t tell me anything about this operation. These people are in the military, so they follow these orders.”

The family are also in regular contact with their son’s commanders, Soroka senior adds.  

“They just told us to wait for his return. We are waiting and hoping that everything will be alright.”

/By Sofia Fedeczko