A firefighter from Germany who went on a rescue mission to save his wife from the Ukrainian capital has been hospitalised after he was shot in the head by Russian troops as he drove through the war zone to try to collect her.
German firefighter Steve Meiling, aged 42, from the town of Borna, located in the German state of Saxony, was on his way to rescue his wife Anna Meiling, 33, and her son Sasha, 13, when he was shot in the head only 30 kilometres (18.6 mi) from the city of Kyiv, according to German media reports.
He was immediately transferred to a hospital in the city of Borodianka with serious head injuries, where surgeons managed to pull a fragment of the projectile out of his head on Friday, 25th February.
Anna, who is hiding with her family in Kyiv, told Newsflash in an interview: “As soon as my husband found out that the Russians attacked us, he decided to come and take me and the child to his home.”
She added: “We had prepared all the papers shortly before departure for our return via Poland. The last time I had contact with him was at 7am.
“He came under fire 30 kilometres before reaching me. His mobile phone and car were destroyed in the attack and now we are in different cities. He is in Borodianka, and I am with my family in Kyiv, since we do not have the opportunity to leave.”
Nevertheless, she was relieved to hear her husband’s voice on the phone and said: “The doctors said, of course, that he’s in a stable condition. I have managed to talk to him on the phone and he says that he feels fine.”
The couple got married in January and wanted to apply for a family reunification visa. They were waiting for Anna to obtain a German language certificate as it was one of the requirements needed in the application process.
Anna said: “One of the [necessary] documents is an A1 certificate. I was waiting for the appointed time to take the exam, but everything was cancelled and then the Russians attacked us.”
The 33-year-old woman, who has no way of getting to her husband, said: “I called the hospital several times, but everyone was in the bunker all day, in the shelter. Today the city suffered greatly. There are fights everywhere. We have to hide in the air raid shelters all the time.”
She said: “I just don’t know what to do, or if we can be together. We are still here. Even if there is an opportunity to leave, only the children will leave.”
Borna’s Mayor Simone Ludtke, 50, who tried to make efforts and take the family out of the country, said: “Unfortunately, Steve Meiling can not be transported. To get him out of there, we need a special transport. That wouldn’t be a problem in Poland or Germany, but it’s impossible due to the situation in Ukraine. Even the Federal Foreign Office or maybe the ADAC cannot help at the moment”
She added: “We would have liked to get Anna and her son out of there now, but she doesn’t want to leave Kiev without her husband. I’m in constant contact with her.”
Anna also confirmed: “I can not and will not leave my husband here in Ukraine.”
She said: “No one believed that Putin was capable of such a thing! To start a war in such a calm and beautiful time…”