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"War is wrong." Story of policeman who survived blockade and captivity and returned to army

Tuesday, 21 November 2023, 14:34
War is wrong. Story of policeman who survived blockade and captivity and returned to army
Photo: the National Police of Ukraine

Police Lieutenant Colonel Oleksandr Koretskyi served in Mariupol at the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine. He was captured and stayed in captivity for almost eight months, but returned to the front again after being released.

Source: National Police of Ukraine

Oleksandr Koretskyi has been working in Mariupol as part of response groups that fought against looters, transported the wounded from areas under shelling, and delivered food and water to people since 24 February 2022.


Quote: "One time a little boy, maybe six or seven years old, approached me. His eyes were like an old man's. And a girl, even smaller, five years old, his sister. They were evacuated from the left bank. I had a vitamin fruit roll in my jacket, and I gave it to them. I had nothing to give them, only this," the lieutenant colonel recalls.

He met the family of these children, and when he was leaving, the boy caught up with him, took him by the sleeve and asked: "Will you come again?"

"I've always thought of myself as a tough guy, but when I got in the car, guys said, 'What is going on with you? You have tears in your eyes.' It's wrong when children see this, when children die because of it. War is wrong," the man says.


Oleksandr was saving women in a Mariupol maternity hospital that Russia dropped a bomb on. He arrived at the hospital three minutes after the airstrike.

"I went around this hospital from the ground floor to the second one, looking for dead and wounded. There were babies, little ones who had just been born, taken outside, into the cold. The women were pregnant, wounded. Everyone was very scared. I have nightmares about it from time to time," the policeman recalls.

Oleksandr Koretskyi says that there were no air-raid sirens in Mariupol, almost the entire city was in ruins, the Russians systematically destroyed it block by block.

"About every half an hour to an hour, an aircraft would fly over. We’d hear the engine and understand that there would be two hits. They liked to do it at night when people are sleeping. We would arrive and see a nine-storey building on fire. We’d start rescuing whoever we can, taking people out, and some 20-30 minutes after the first strike the second one would come and hit in the same place," the lieutenant colonel says.

Oleksandr attempted to escape from the encirclement on 16 March. He was captured.

"We left, passed several checkpoints, and at the entrance to Berdiansk, there were no longer the Russians but so-called Donetsk People’s Republic servicemen, who began to check all the men very carefully. They were glad that they caught a lieutenant colonel," he recalls.

The policeman said that prisoners were taken out of their cells every day, in the morning and the evening.

"Everyone has probably heard how they treat those imprisoned for life. My ribs, which were broken, healed wrong, incorrectly, and put pressure on my heart. This is for the rest of my life," the man says.

During interrogations, representatives of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation asked the policeman if he knew anything about war crimes. He told about the women maimed during childbirth in Mariupol, but the Russians did not want to hear the truth.

Ukraine managed to bring back Oleksandr during the exchange in November 2022. For a year now, he has been serving again at home, in Donetsk Oblast, where he began his career as a young lieutenant.

Currently, the lieutenant colonel is the deputy head of the Department of Preventive Activities of the National Police in Donetsk Oblast. He is responsible for the safety of policemen at checkpoints.

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