A captured Russian soldier has described how he was shot at and his comrade killed after fellow troops opened fire on them when they tried to protect Ukrainian civilians.
In a video, the POW described how he and a lieutenant tried to save a woman in her 20s, and her mother, after Russian soldiers were given orders to fire on civilians on February 24 in Kharkiv.
In the clip, the captured soldier claimed he was shot in the foot, and the lieutenant killed, when other troops realised the pair weren’t shooting at civilians.
In another video, a separate POW describes how ‘many’ Russian troops are fleeing the war – despite warnings from above that they face seven years in jail for desertion.
The man described an incident on February 24 in Kharkiv, where he and a lieutenant tried to protect a woman in her twenties, and her mother, as the two sides opened fire on each other
He said: ‘Vehicles were turning around, driving away, some were hiding.
‘Then your (Ukrainian) forces began to shoot at ours. And then, while ours were being shot at, me and my lieutenant were helping civilians.’
He said the two men ‘decision to save civilians, Ukrainian civilians’.
Speaking about the two women they helped, the soldier said: ‘The lieutenant ran over to them, began to take them out of the car, shouting “come over over here”.
‘In about 20 minutes, they noticed me and the lieutenant were saving civilians and an order was given to shoot me and the lieutenant and the civilians.
‘The lieutenant was killed, then they began shooting at the mother. She died with him too.
In a second video released by the Ukrainian Security Service on Facebook, a Russian military technician was questioned, and claimed deserters are being threatened with jail time
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‘Me and the daughter began to retreat. My forces began to shoot me in the legs.
‘If it wasn’t for this garage, they would have killed me the same as they had with the mother and lieutenant.
‘Me and the daughter sat behind this garage. We hid until it quietened down and the daughter suggested to drive away, call for forces.
‘She went to find her mother, who was next to the lieutenant. Got the keys (to the car).
‘I crawled to the car and she put me in the backseat. She started the car and drove.’
It’s understood the man lost consciousness and when he came to, woke up thirsty, explaining the civilian was able to get him some water before they got medical attention.
In a second video released by the Ukrainian Security Service on Facebook, a Russian military technician was questioned, and claimed deserters are being threatened with seven years of jail time.
The man, who transported equipment in need of repair from Ukraine, said: ‘Many have already left home. Many are fleeing, they don’t want to go to war. What is it for? No one needs this, this war. No one wants this.
‘They are against it, they’re escaping. The thing is they’re promising seven years in prison, so people are staying. No one wants to go to jail.
‘Around month ago they gathered us, gave us documents, and told us to say we’re willing to participate in a special operation.
‘Even if you didn’t want to sign up for it, you did, and everyone was 100% told to go, they were sent.
‘And so around a month ago, they sent us away and loaded equipment.’
A video yesterday also showed a captured Russian commander begging for ‘mercy’ for Putin’s forces attacking Ukraine, saying they were duped into invading in the false belief that the government had been overthrown by Nazis and needing liberating.
The man, who claimed he is a lieutenant-colonel in the Russian national guard’s special rapid response unit, said his countrymen have been ‘brainwashed’ into supporting the war but – having seen the situation in Ukraine for himself – he now feels ‘shame’ in taking part in ‘genocide’ and says Ukrainians are ‘right’ to resist.
Astakhov Dmitry Mikhailovich said his doubts solidified when he saw two of his favourite boxers – Oleksandr Usyk and Vasiliy Lomachenko – agreeing to fight for the resistance.
And in a stark message delivered to Russian troops still fighting, he said: ‘I’m begging you, stop before it is too late…Russia cannot win here.
‘If someone came to my territory, I would do the same as these people did and I would be right. They are right now.
‘Guys, be brave. It’s easier for me, I’m in this situation already. You are in a tense situation, going against your own commander.
‘But this is genocide, the people are just killed.’
It echoes statements given by other Russian prisoners interviewed by Ukrainian forces, who said the order to attack came at short notice, that they were told the Ukrainian government had been deposed, and that they were going in a ‘liberators’ who should expect only light resistance. Instead, they walked into a bloodbath.
Ukrainian servicemen inspect a charred Russian tank that was destroyed on the outskirts of Sumy, eastern Ukraine
None of their accounts can be verified, and all statements are likely to have been given under some degree of duress.
But the consistency with which the same story is being told – by soldiers from different units fighting in different areas of the country who have not had time to align their stories – is striking.
This comes as Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov today released new estimates of casualties and damage from the war, saying Russian military actions have killed 38 children and wounded more than 70.
A charred Russian tank is seen on the outskirts of Sumy, a city in the east of the country, as Putin’s invading force continues to suffer losses without a significant gain in territory
In a video address, he said that overall at least 400 civilian deaths have been recorded and 800 wounded, though ‘these data are definitely incomplete’.
It was not immediately possible to verify the figures.
He said Russian strikes have destroyed more than 200 Ukrainian schools, 34 hospitals and 1,500 residential buildings.
Reznikov estimated some 10,000 foreign students, notably from India, China and the Persian Gulf are trapped by the fighting, and described attacks on British and Swiss journalists.
Ukrainian soldiers in Luhansk, in the country’s east, captured images showing destroyed Russian military vehicles
He claimed that Ukrainian forces have killed more than 11,000 Russian troops.
‘Russian invaders fire on humanitarian corridors through which civilians are trying to escape,’ he said, without saying where.
Russian officials did not comment Tuesday and have only acknowledged several hundred deaths among Russian forces.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has also today called for the expansion of humanitarian corridors for Ukrainian civilians fleeing war, and more support from the Red Cross.
Refugees fleeing Ukraine wait for a train to Budapest at Zahony train station in Hungary today
In a video address from an undisclosed location, he said a child died of dehydration in the blockaded southern seaport of Mariupol, in a sign of how desperate the city’s population has become, and once again begged Western countries to provide air support.
He said evacuation buses have been sent to Mariupol, but said there was no firm agreement on the route, so ‘Russian troops can simply shoot on this transport on the way.’
Zelensky accused the International Red Cross of ‘forbidding the use of its emblem on our cars,’ but did not give details. Videos of buses heading out of Sumy and toward Mariupol have had signs with a red cross on the side but it’s not clear who pasted them there.