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As Russia’s war against Ukraine continues, the low morale and training of Russian soldiers has led to quite a number of them being taken prisoner, and some of them had a message for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
As evidence continues to mount of Russia’s unbelievable atrocities against Ukrainian civilians, a few of the captured Russian soldiers exhibited some surprising sentiments when captured, warning Putin that the army has had enough and would rise up against him if he continued to order massacres such as the bombing of Mariupol hospital.
Three Russian Air Force pilots gave public declarations and then were privately interviewed by CNN immediately after a press conference on Friday. They had strong words for the Russian tyrant, warning that he would face consequences and that “[Putin] will not hide this for long” since “many” soldiers feel the same way, and that “sooner or later, we will come home.”
The Russian commanders on the ground relaying the actual orders to the lowest level soldiers were not spared either, and were lambasted for “horrifying” atrocities against “peaceful Ukrainian civilians,” stating that “you cannot forgive such things.”
“I don’t know, what can justify, f***, the tears of a child, or even worse, the deaths of innocent people, children. It’s not just about demilitarizing Ukraine or the defeat of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, but now cities of peaceful civilians are being destroyed,” said one pilot named Maxim.
“[Russian soldiers] have many relatives and friends [in Ukraine], and they were told it was an operation localized to the DNR [the Russian-backed militia in the Donetsk area], and not an attack on the whole country. My division was totally against it,” Maxim went on.
Maxim said that he had never bought into the Russian propaganda line that the invasion was to “de-Nazify” Ukraine, and realized almost immediately that the world would not be sympathetic to Moscow’s message.
Another pilot said that pilots were not given leeway in acquiring targets, and were simply commanded to hit certain coordinates. Maxim added that pilots find it “impossible to really know” what exactly they are hitting, “for example, [the commanders] mark down a column of tanks. But we cannot be sure if there is really one there or not.”
This theme of withholding information and confusion within the ranks is not new, with reports that Russian troops allegedly were not told they were even going to Ukraine, and those who were told were made to believe they would be welcomed as liberators, with open arms.
CNN reported that, in spite of the circumstances of the confessions, when they interviewed the pilots in person they did not appear to be under duress or showing any visible signs of mistreatment. One pilot had a bad cut on his forehead, which he said he received prior to capture. Ukrainian security agents were present in the room but did not interrupt either CNN or the prisoners, who spoke to each other in Russian.
Moscow has asserted that it is only attacking military targets, yet footage keeps coming out of hospitals, residential blocks, churches, and other targets of no military value being targeted and destroyed. In Mariupol, arguably one of the hardest-hit cities, a drama theater sheltering civilians, with “children” written outside in giant block letters to be visible from the air, was shelled repeatedly, keeping away frantic rescuers trying to get to the people trapped under the rubble.
It’s impossible to say whether or not Russian forces are about to launch a coup against Putin, but there have been many reports of Russian soldiers defecting and surrendering without putting up much of a fight, and showing other signs of having little to no morale or desire to wage this war.
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