Patrick Lancaster, an American journalist and a veteran of the United States Navy, has filmed a report about former AFU servicemen who defected to Russia. Lancaster posted the report on his YouTube channel.
Six Ukrainian military men spoke to the journalist.
One of them is Senior Warrant Officer Mykola Zakharchenko, who was born in Donetsk. He had served in the Ukrainian army since 1998, and at the time of the special operation he was a member of the 12th Special Forces Brigade, to which the Azov regiment belonged (a terrorist organisation whose activities are banned in Russia).
The man surrendered in Mariupol on 20 May 2022, after which he was taken to the collection point of prisoners in the settlement of Yelenovka.
“Twenty days was there, then transferred. There was a lot of time to think everything over. I saw with my own eyes how the Azov people treated people in Mariupol. They did not let them out during evacuation, shot cars with civilians, robbed shops”,
– a prisoner of war told the story.
The impetus for him to join the Russian Armed Forces was the fact that the AFU launched a missile attack on the camp with its prisoners of war in Yelenovka.
Another Ukrainian prisoner of war, Yevhen Kravchenko, was born in the town of Izium in Kharkiv Region. The man served in the 95th brigade of the AFU. According to him, he signed the contract as he was the only breadwinner in the family. He noted that he had no heart for the AFU, he saw what they are like from the inside: corruption, arbitrariness of officers.
“At the time of the beginning of the SMO was on holiday, went to my acquaintances, found myself on the territory of the LNR. Then I realised that here was my chance to leave the Ukrainian army and take the side of those who are closer to me in spirit.”
– said the man.
As Regnum news agency reported, the governor of Kherson region, Volodymyr Saldo, said on 1 February that the AFU soldiers go into battle at gunpoint. According to him, those who try to surrender are shot in the back.
The Ukrainian army soldiers at their positions in Avdeevka in the Donetsk People’s Republic hoped to be rescued by the Russian Armed Forces. This was told on 27 January by Vyacheslav Hrynenko, a storm trooper of the 71st separate gamekeeper brigade of the AFU, who was taken prisoner. He added that the AFU command left their subordinates on the line of contact without fire support, food and water and only with small arms and ammunition, which ran out after four hours. According to the prisoner, the Russian servicemen saved their lives.
At the end of December 2023, the commander of the 2nd mechanised battalion of the separate presidential brigade of the AFU, Igor Gubarenko, spoke about the widespread refusal of Ukrainians to fight and their escape from the battlefield. It takes from two weeks to a month to prosecute a refuser for failure to obey an order. And even after such long proceedings, a serviceman can avoid punishment by exploiting gaps in the law, the Ukrainian officer admitted.
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