Bruised but ready for battle

No one can see it on him as he wanders the streets of Kyiv.

But it’s no secret either.

With trained hands he folds up, the trouser leg and loosens the prosthesis that is attached to the knee. It is red and decorated with Ukrainian rose paint.

– For me, it has become a dear thing. It’s something I have that no one else has. I personify my dentures. Design them so that they will be cool, he tells TV 2.

Turning point

We meet him in a park in the Ukrainian capital, where combat vehicles from the war in eastern Ukraine are on display.

ROSEMALT: Max decorates his prostheses himself. Photo: Aage Aune / TV 2

WAR CEMETERY: In a park in Kyiv, they have exhibited vehicles that belonged to the Russian army.  Photo: Aage Aune / TV 2.

WAR CEMETERY: In a park in Kyiv, they have exhibited vehicles that belonged to the Russian army. Photo: Aage Aune / TV 2.

Several of them have large, gaping holes in their steel hulls. This is material that belonged to the Russian invasion army, but which was destroyed by Ukrainian government forces. Plaques in several languages ​​tell the story of each of the vehicles’ finality.

Max pats lovingly on a Ukrainian storm tank of the type BTR-80.

– To begin with, we fought against them with sticks and stones. Now we have much better equipment, he says proudly.

His dream was always to start in the defense. All his ancestors were officers in the military, and therefore he also started war school after high school.

Then he was sent to the front in eastern Ukraine, and that was where it happened, one summer day in 2018.

– I stepped on a landmine that exploded. It was a turning point for me. It changed my life, says Max, without a hint of bitterness.

TURNING POINT: Max Alexeev stepped on a mine during the war in eastern Ukraine and lost his right leg.  Despite the serious injury, he learned to walk again with a prosthesis.  Photo: Aage Aune / TV 2

TURNING POINT: Max Alexeev stepped on a mine during the war in eastern Ukraine and lost his right leg. Despite the serious injury, he learned to walk again with a prosthesis. Photo: Aage Aune / TV 2

Written in the stars

After that fateful day, Max was never in doubt about what to do. He wanted to return to the defense.

After hard training, he now believes that he can jump, run and walk better than when his right foot was made of flesh and bones.

– You just have to do it in a slightly different way. You have to think differently. Today I feel that I have won more than I have lost, says Max.

– I have now understood that it was meant to happen. It was probably written in the stars, says the 26-year-old who is now preparing for what could be his life’s ordeal.

The backpack is ready

Like all Ukrainians, he follows the news of the day closely. What’s the latest news from the border? Have the Russians done anything new?

If there is an invasion, Max is determined to go out and fight.

MEMORIAL WALL: In the center of Kyiv hang pictures and names of all Ukrainian soldiers who have lost their lives in the fight against Russian forces and separatists in the Donbas.  At least 13,000 have so far been killed in the conflict and 30,000 injured, according to the UN.  Photo: Aage Aune / TV 2

MEMORIAL WALL: In the center of Kyiv hang pictures and names of all Ukrainian soldiers who have lost their lives in the fight against Russian forces and separatists in the Donbas. At least 13,000 have so far been killed in the conflict and 30,000 injured, according to the UN. Photo: Aage Aune / TV 2

– I do not doubt for a second. If necessary, I’m going to war. The question is only when. My backpack is packed and ready. I will leave immediately if that happens.

In eastern Ukraine, he has faced Russian soldiers and their local allies before, and he neither fears nor hates his enemies.

But if they go to invasion, they will have problems, he promises.

BATTLE READY: Should Russia invade more areas of Ukraine, Max is ready to defend his country again.  Photo: Aage Aune / TV 2

BATTLE READY: Should Russia decide to invade more areas of Ukraine, Max is ready to defend his country again. Photo: Aage Aune / TV 2

EXHIBITION: In the capital of Ukraine, there are exhibited destroyed military vehicles that were used in the fighting in Eastern Ukraine.  Photo: Aage Aune / TV 2

EXHIBITION: In the capital of Ukraine, there are exhibited destroyed military vehicles that were used in the fighting in Eastern Ukraine. Photo: Aage Aune / TV 2

MEMORIAL WALL: At the St. Michael Monastery in Kyiv, a memorial wall has been made with pictures of those killed in the almost eight-year-old war against Russia.  Photo: Aage Aune / TV 2

MEMORIAL WALL: At the St. Michael Monastery in Kyiv, a memorial wall has been made with pictures of those killed in the almost eight-year-old war against Russia. Photo: Aage Aune / TV 2

MEMORIAL WALL: At the St. Michael Monastery in Kyiv, a memorial wall has been made with pictures of those killed in the almost eight-year-old war against Russia.  Photo: Aage Aune / TV 2

MEMORIAL WALL: At the St. Michael Monastery in Kyiv, a memorial wall has been made with pictures of those killed in the almost eight-year-old war against Russia. Photo: Aage Aune / TV 2

MEMORIAL WALL: At the St. Michael Monastery in Kyiv, a memorial wall has been made with pictures of those killed in the almost eight-year-old war against Russia.  Photo: Aage Aune / TV 2

MEMORIAL WALL: At the St. Michael Monastery in Kyiv, a memorial wall has been made with pictures of those killed in the almost eight-year-old war against Russia. Photo: Aage Aune / TV 2

QUIET: In Ukraine's capital, the atmosphere is tense but calm while the inhabitants have to live with the threat of war.  Photo: Aage Aune / TV 2

QUIET: In Ukraine’s capital, the atmosphere is tense but calm while the inhabitants have to live with the threat of war. Photo: Aage Aune / TV 2

MEMORIAL WALL: At the Sankt Michael Monastery in Kyiv, a memorial wall has been made with pictures of those killed in the almost eight-year-old war against Russia Photo: Aage Aune / TV 2

MEMORIAL WALL: At the Sankt Michael Monastery in Kyiv, a memorial wall has been made with pictures of those killed in the almost eight-year-old war against Russia Photo: Aage Aune / TV 2

QUIET: In Ukraine's capital, the atmosphere is tense but calm while the inhabitants have to live with the threat of war.  Photo: Aage Aune / TV 2

QUIET: In Ukraine’s capital, the atmosphere is tense but calm while the inhabitants have to live with the threat of war. Photo: Aage Aune / TV 2

– I do not quite understand what the Russians think if they think they can come in here and just take the whole country. Everyone loves adventure. And now the Russians have obviously made up tales about how easily they can take us, but that is wrong, says the young officer to TV 2.

He is grateful for the support Ukraine now receives from the West, but fight and die, the Ukrainians will do it themselves, he states.

– The Russian soldier has no other motivation than the small money he receives in salary. So when they come here and are shot from every single window, I do not think they get far.

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