'Had to lie still among bodies to escape death,' Malayali youth recounts experience at Russian war front

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Vineeth with his mother. Photo: Manorama

Thiruvananthapuram: From feigning death to ducking bombs dropped by drones, Vineeth has a thrilling tale of survival to tell. Vineeth was among several Indians who were conned into fighting for Russia against Ukraine.

Son of Paniyamma and Silva of Kunnumpuram in Anjuthengu (Anchengo)in the district, Vineeth doesn't feel his escape from the war front like a thriller. For him, it is a nightmare, a maze of memories he wants to erase.

The 22-year-old man, now back in the safety of his family and home, said he had to lie still with dead bodies to escape the Ukrainian drones. The unmanned aerial vehicles whizzed overhead, as he ran for his life, Vineeth recalled.

"There was no alternative other than lying with the bodies," he said. The dead and the injured, most with severed body parts, remained where they had fallen, with no one to shift them.

Vineeth reached home from Ukraine on Thursday, May 9. He said a translator from Tamil Nadu helped him escape during the 15 days of leave he received after getting injured in the war. The youngster said he had to participate in the war three times. He had to survive on chocolates and water for days. The bread provided had frozen in the extreme cold climate, and he could not eat it.

Vineeth said he was deployed in a tank along with four others. Both armies targeted the rival's war equipment. Vineeth's tank came under attack several times and was destroyed in the last assault. The man said he suffered injuries on his right hand and was in hospital for 22 days.

After being discharged from the hospital, Vineeth contacted the commanding officer with the translator's help and got leave for 15 days. During this period, the translator helped him prepare the required documents to return home and assisted him at the airport.

The man said several people who had been with him were killed in the war. Vineeth said he opted for a security job in Russia due to his family's financial difficulties. He realised that he had been cheated much later.

Prince Sebastian, also of Anjuthengu, and David Muthappan of Poovar, too, were similarly conned into fighting the war. They reached home safely on April 3.

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