Former Chief of Russian Space Agency Sends Piece of Shrapnel that Nearly Killed Him in Donetsk to French President

Dmitry Rogozin, the former chief of Russian space agency Roscosmos, has sent a piece of shrapnel from a French howitzer shell that injured him in last month to the French President Emmanuel Macron.

He sustained injuries in a December attack on a Donetsk hotel where he had been celebrating his birthday with the deputy head of the breakaway Donetsk People's Republic and others.

Two people had died in the attack which the Ukraine's Border Guard Service said was a warning to Russians not to break the law by illegally entering Ukrainian territory.

Dmitry Rogozin

The Deadly Shrapnel

Rogozin, who has also served as Russia's deputy prime minister, in an open letter to France's ambassador to Moscow, Pierre Levy, highlighted the shrapnel from a shell that was fired by a French 155-mm Caesar artillery unit. "It punctured my right shoulder and lodged in the fifth cervical vertebra only a millimetre away from killing me or rendering me an invalid," he said.

The Putin supporter said the incident took place during a work meeting in the restaurant of a hotel in Donetsk. However, Russian state news channels stated that Rogozin was celebrating his 59th birthday when the attack happened. News channels broadcast images of the hotel and restaurant with its roof destroyed and debris all around.

Rogozin claimed to have had regular stays at the hotel during trips to Donetsk region. He said two of his friends were killed in the attack. "All our victims are on your conscience. I ask that you give the shrapnel the surgeons cut out of my spine to French President Emmanuel Macron. And tell him that no one will escape responsibility for war crimes." He had sustained a concussion and a shrapnel wound above the right shoulder blade.