2023 Excellence in Visual Digital Storytelling, Large Newsroom finalist

Inside the hospitals that concealed Russian casualties

About the Project

When Putin declared his “special military operation” in a pre-dawn televised address on February 24, he sent missiles, paratroopers and a huge armored column of soldiers rolling south from Belarusian soil, setting in motion what was intended to be a lightning strike to decapitate the government in Kyiv. But as Russia’s advance stalled and setbacks mounted, Moscow began to spirit wounded soldiers back across the border to Belarus for treatment in several civilian hospitals, a CNN investigation has revealed. The doctors working there were drafted into a war that they didn’t sign up for, unwittingly enlisted as quasi-combat medics and obliged by their hippocratic oath to provide life-saving care. Their testimonies and documentation — including medical records seen by CNN — offer insights into the Belarusian government’s complicity in the Ukraine war, as fears mount that the country might be sucked further into the fight.