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Russia invades Ukraine, NATO chief warns war could last for years

Olga Zhuchenko chats with CNN’s Jake Tapper from her hospital bed in Lviv, Ukraine. (CNN)

The fighting and violence in Ukraine is so prolific that hospitals are faced with a deluge of civilians, who often arrive with injuries foreign to young doctors. And just like in other conflicts, including Syria, the Russians are targeting these medical facilities, damaging 279 people so far and completely decimating 19 others, according to Ukraine’s health minister.

CNN’s Jake Tapper visited a hospital in the west where patients from the east and south had to travel hundreds of miles to get treatment safely.

Olga Zhuchenko survived seven bombs that hit her neighborhood in the Luhansk region, but she now lies in a hospital bed and may never walk again.

” I lost everything. I lost my apartment, my property, my health,” she told CNN via translator. “We didn’t expect to see him. We have always considered Russians as brothers. We never expected them to exterminate us like that.

Nearly two months into the conflict, it has become clear that attacks on civilian neighborhoods — like the one suffered by Zhuchenk — are no accident, CNN reported.

“The facts lead to only one conclusion. The Russians deliberately massacre the Ukrainians. Moms and dads, kids, grandparents,” Tapper continued.

Meanwhile, American doctors have traveled to Ukraine, hoping to offer assistance and experience gained during their stay in the Middle East.

“We wanted to share information about our experiences in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Dr. John Holcomb, a professor of surgery at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, told Tapper at the hospital.

The injuries suffered by Ukrainian civilians are so brutal that local doctors are dealing with unprecedented cases.

“The injury we have now is incredible,” revealed Dr Hnat Herych, chief of surgery at a Ukrainian hospital. He has seen an influx of thousands of patients and has a message to share.

“I want the world to know that they have to know that Russian forces, they’re not fighting with the Ukrainian military, they’re fighting with the Ukrainian people,” he told Tapper. “They are killing civilians, they are killing children, they are destroying our country.”

And war hurts Ukrainians in many ways, apart from bullets and bombs.

Olha Akynshyn was forced to celebrate her 45th birthday from a hospital bed, after suffering a serious car accident while fleeing Kharkiv with her husband and son.

“We had a happy life. Everything was perfect and then everything changed very abruptly,” she told Tapper via translator.

After hiding in a basement for a month amid relentless shelling, Akynshyn and her family made the decision to drive away when the nearby building was flattened, resulting in the accident and injuries, after she hasn’t slept for two days.

“We were so scared, especially our child was so scared that we couldn’t stay anymore,” she said.

Today, Akynshyn isn’t sure she will ever be able to return to her old town or her old life.

“The school where my child learned was destroyed, but I hope that if our house remained safe, we will come back, we will rebuild. Our neighbor will rebuild our village, our city. I love my Ukraine so much, I don’t would like to live only here in Ukraine,” she said.

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