A Russian paratrooper and deserter has called the Kremlin’s justification for the Russian attack on Ukraine a lie. “We don’t see the reasons the government is trying to explain (the war) to us. It’s all a lie,” Pavel Filatyev said in an interview with US news channel CNN.
“We understood that we were drawn into a serious conflict where we are just destroying cities and not really liberating anyone,” the 33-year-old said. “We only destroy the peaceful life. This fact has had a huge impact on our morale.” According to Filatyev, the soldiers “feel that we are doing no good.”
Two weeks ago, the former paratrooper from the 56th regiment of the Russian Air Force posted his 100-page diary against the Russian war of aggression on the social network VKontakte, the Russian equivalent of Facebook. After that he fled Russia. The 33-year-old had previously been evacuated from the front because of an injury.
According to CNN, Filatyev is the first military person from Russia who has spoken out against the Russian invasion and left the country. His unit, stationed in Crimea, was sent early to war to capture the Kherson region.
According to the paratrooper, the unit was poorly equipped, and there was apparently hardly any explanation for the invasion. “Our barracks are about 100 years old and cannot accommodate all of our soldiers,” Filatyev said. “All of our weapons are from the time in Afghanistan.”
The unit would have lacked drones and other unmanned aerial vehicles. In addition, both the soldiers and the commanders were not sure what to do in Ukraine.
“Several days after the encirclement of Kherson, many of us had no food, no water and no sleeping bags with us.” The soldiers could not have slept at night because of the cold. Filatyev describes: “We searched for garbage and rags to wrap ourselves up and keep warm.”
The city of Kherson was one of the first cities in Ukraine to be almost completely captured since the invasion began. With the offensive shifting to the south of the country, Ukrainian troops are currently fighting to recapture the city.
After his desertion, Filatyev found it difficult to understand the vision behind the six-month war of aggression: “Now that I’m out of there and I don’t have a weapon anymore, I think this is the worst and stupidest thing our government would have can do.”
The 33-year-old was appalled by what was happening in his home country. “Everything is destroyed, corrupt,” he told CNN. “I don’t know where the government wants to take us. What is the next step? A nuclear war?”
Before fleeing, Filatyev had conducted isolated media interviews in Russia. The deserter believes it is likely that the Kremlin could take revenge on him.
“They’re either going to put me in jail…or they’re just going to silence me by getting rid of me,” the ex-paratrooper said. “I don’t see any other way out. If it happens, then it happens.”