A CIG saved a soldier when he took cover to light it moments before a Russian bombardment.
The private, known only as Sergei, left his bunker to smoke but a breeze put out the flame.
He said: “I took one step round the wall to get out of the wind exactly when there was an explosion.
“If I hadn’t been trying to light my cigarette I’d be dead.”
Dad-of-one Sergei, 46, who declined to give his surname in line with military rules, was concussed by the 120mm artillery shell blast in Rubizhne, a city now under Kremlin control.
The Russian-born welder signed up for his adopted homeland when war began in February.
He added: “They put their guns over compound walls and sprayed bullets.
“We were a few metres away. We threw grenades.”
The hero shrugged off the hardships of life on the front line insisting it was “just like dangerous camping”.
He added: “The hardest thing was the Russian bodies because they just left them.”
Ukraine said at least 10,000 of its troops have died and at least 20,000 Russians.
Most of the Ukrainian casualties have suffered shrapnel and blast injuries.