Kiwi soldier saves friend he thought was dead from Russian captivity
The dramatic moment a Kiwi soldier in Ukraine saved a Ukrainian comrade he thought had been killed has been caught on video.
Kane Te Tai is a former New Zealand Defence Force soldier currently fighting in a secretive Ukrainian military intelligence unit in Ukraine's east.
He fought on the same failed attack on a Russian trench in August that saw fellow New Zealander Dominic Abelen die. Abelen is the only Kiwi soldier known to have died in the conflict so far.
READ MORE: 'If you mess with us, you'll get a bloody nose': Reaction to AUKUS deal
The dramatic 45-second video shows Te Tai entering a basement of a building covered in rubble.
"We hit a Russian position a few days ago and after a quick battle and breach we started clearing the bunker and basement," Te Tai said on social media.
The video shows Te Tai and several other soldiers entering the basement, with Te Tai telling a person to put their hands up.
But as Te Tai put the man on the ground and began to search him, the pair locked eyes.
The Ukrainian man started to shout "New Zealand, New Zealand".
"Oh, my brother," Te Tai exclaims.
READ MORE: Russian advance stalls in Ukraine's Bakhmut, think tank says
"I recognised him, it was my friend who I thought was killed by the Russians when they invaded his house," he said on social media.
Te Tai described the feeling of saving him as awesome.
"I had been running around this place causing trouble for the last two months thinking of him and our friends in those houses daily. Thinking they were gone.
"I'm glad he survived. It was serendipitous," he said.
Te Tai said during the man's two-month capture, he was heavily starved and forced to drink anti-freeze for entertainment by his Russian captors.
Sign up here to receive our daily newsletters and breaking news alerts, sent straight to your inbox.
"It was the best thing to happen to me in this godforsaken war," Te Tai said.
"To be able to save your friends is something that almost never happens but I'm thankful and blessed that it was us that could pull him from that hell hole."
The pair had bonded months earlier because of the man's knowledge of the Lord of the Rings films and his desire to visit New Zealand.
The man was originally living away from the war in Montenegro, but had joined the Ukrainian army out of passion for his country, Te Tai said.
This article was originally published on Stuff and has been reproduced with permission.