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A Ukrainian soldier who lost both legs fighting Russian invaders has become a superstar ballet dancer.
Oleksandr Budko, 27, has been touring the US with the United Ukrainian Ballet company dancing in front of audiences of up to 3,000 with and without his prosthetic legs.
The former graphic designer and coffee shop barista was blown up in a trench near Izyum, north-east Ukraine, last August (2022) – three months after signing up to fight for his homeland against Vladimir Putin's army.
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He said: "Lying on my stomach I didn't even hear the whistle of the shell.
"All I felt was the hellish pain, a suffocating smell and earth in my nose.''
Surgeons thought they could save one of his legs but within three days both Mr Budko's legs had been amputated below the knee.
But he has gone on to become a role model for other soldiers looking to overcome the trauma of their injuries.
A video on Instagram shows him dressed in a military-style shirt leading the dancing in a ballet written about the war.
"This choreography is about the consequences of the war, about people, about how indomitable we are, despite the pain and losses,'' he wrote online.
Oleksandr has also taken part in trials to represent Ukraine at the Invictus Games for injured soldiers set to be held in Germany next month.
"What motivates me to keep going? People. When I hear that my example helps them, I understand that I am doing everything right,'' he said.
Ottobock, a German company that produces prosthetic limbs, has said after 18 months of war 50,000 Ukrainian soldiers have had at least one limb amputated – more than the British Army by the end of WW2.
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