US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has agreed to treat wounded Ukrainian soldiers at a US military hospital in Germany, according to a memo obtained by CNN and confirmed by two US defense officials.
The plan allows for up to 18 wounded soldiers to be treated simultaneously at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, a huge hospital in Germany where, for years, the military has treated US service members wounded in combat.
Austin provided verbal directions on May 26 to begin providing treatment to wounded Ukrainian soldiers, according to the memo. On June 29, Austin formalized the oral guidance and in a note titled “Guidelines for Medical Treatment of Wounded Ukrainian Service Members.”
Although the plan received final approval nearly a month ago, Landstuhl has not yet received personnel from the Ukrainian Medicare Service.
“We have not treated any Ukrainian soldiers at Landstuhl,” an official from the US European Command told CNN.
The official said the purpose of the memo was to remove any routine that would slow down the process of providing treatment should the need arise. The plan will allow treatment if there is no facility available in Ukraine or in a closer country. Landstuhl is located approximately 700 miles (over 1,000 kilometers) from the Ukrainian border.
If Landstuhl were to receive wounded Ukrainian forces, the service personnel would have to leave Ukraine by train or car, which has no troops in Ukraine, before the United States could airlift them to Ramstein Air Base.
Anton Gerashchenko, an advisor to the Ukrainian Interior Minister, published on Monday Video on Twitter It shows Ukrainian soldiers receiving a prosthetic leg at a hospital in Chicago. a second video The post on Tuesday showed soldiers walking on prosthetics.
But this appears to be the first mandate for Ukrainian forces to receive treatment in military facilities rather than in civilian hospitals.
More background: In late April, a bipartisan group of congressmen wrote a letter to Austin and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken urging the administration to do more to support “faltering health care systems” in Ukraine and Poland.
One of the requests was the “expansion” of the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center for the treatment of Ukrainian patients and wounded. The authors said it would follow a US decision to provide treatment to Afghan refugees who transited through nearby Ramstein Air Force Base last year. The letter also urged the administration to send armored ambulances and establish several military field hospitals along the Polish-Ukrainian border.
“You have a unique opportunity to showcase American leadership by providing medical support to Ukrainians that will inspire other NATO countries to do the same,” the authors wrote.
John Kirby, who was then the Pentagon’s press secretary, said Austin received the April 22 letter, and “she is sure to take it seriously and respond appropriately.” Kirby said any decision to provide field hospitals or US humanitarian support would be made in consultation with the host country.
CNN has reached out to several of the letter’s signatories for comment.
On the day Austin issued verbal instructions to begin providing treatment to Ukrainian soldiers, the senior American general spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart. No reading of the conversation between the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, General Valery Zaluzhnyy opening US military medical facilities to Ukrainian service members
One month later, Austin formalized the verbal directive on the day he spoke with Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov. According to a readout of the call, Austin provided an update on US security assistance efforts, but there is no mention of providing treatment to Ukrainian soldiers.