Captured Russian soldier claims Moscow has special squad for deserters

Putin’s deserter death squads: Captured Russian soldier claims Moscow has a special unit which kills anyone who tries ‘to run home’ 

  • A captured Russian soldier has claimed Putin’s forces threaten to kill deserters 
  • The man claimed his phone was taken away and didn’t see news about Ukraine
  • He said by the time soldiers understand the situation, only option is surrender 

A captured Russian soldier has claimed that Putin’s military forces have a special squad set up for killing deserters who don’t want to take part in the invasion of Ukraine.

The 22-year-old man said soldiers are threatened with a specialised ‘echelon’, and that they are kept in the dark until they see the devastation for themselves – at which point the ‘only thing we could really do was surrender’.

In a filmed questioning by the Ukrainian Security Service, the POW also said his phone was taken away, so he couldn’t read the news on the situation.

He said: ‘As we came in we realised the situation, that we’re not going into a peacekeeping mission, but to fight.

‘There were questions to commanders, sort of like “why the hell are we doing this”, but to turn back and leave? We won’t make it home. 

‘Echelons in the back, they kill deserters…it seems, with people I’ve spoken to, we’re all military, they told them the same thing.

‘There really is a squad that kills people who try to run home.’

Adding that he probably won’t be able to return, the soldier claimed he and others were ‘lied’ to by the military.

A captured Russian soldier has claimed that Putin’s military forces have a special squad set up for killing deserters who don’t want to take part in the invasion of Ukraine

Members of Pro-Russian separatists walk near a tank in front of a heavily damaged apartment in the pro-Russian separatists-controlled Donetsk, Ukraine yesterday

He said: ‘I understand…the trouble I got involved with at the place where I worked. I probably won’t return. Well, not probably. I won’t return to that place where I worked, in the army.

‘They lied. They threw us a piece of meat. When people understood with their own heads…They took away our phones so we didn’t see the news about the situation in Ukraine, what’s happening. 

‘They were telling us, at every populated point, that there were no peaceful dwellers there, for example. But they were there.’

The soldier also said that he was thrown into military action, and ‘they weren’t particularly concerned if we wanted to take part in this or not’.

A man walks through debris in the aftermath of an aerial bombing, as Russia’s advance on the Ukrainian capital continues, in the village of Byshiv outside Kyiv

He added: ‘When we surrendered, by around 15 kilometres, we understood that the rockets which were flying, they weren’t flying into some military thing, they were flying to a peaceful population. Normal, ordinary, populated places. 

‘By the time we understood the situation, they didn’t let us go back. They told us they’d kill us if we went back. The only thing we could really do, was surrender.’

This comes as Russia has made dire threats to the West that any military shipments to Ukraine will be seen as ‘legitimate targets’, prompting fears there could be an escalation of conflict that could suck in other countries.

Deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov warned the US ‘that pumping weapons from a number of countries it orchestrates isn’t just a dangerous move, it’s an action that makes those convoys legitimate targets’.

The warnings came after Joe Biden personally intervened to stop a shipment of Polish MiG fighter jets to Kyiv, fearing the move could lead to ‘World War Three’.

A Russian army tank move on the outskirts of Mariupol, Ukraine, pictured yesterday as the invasion continues

A crater created by the impact of an aerial bomb that destroyed a cultural center and an administration building in he village of Byshiv, outside Kyiv today 

But Volodymyr Zelensky has slammed the West for its inaction, saying today he ‘doesn’t see any bravery from NATO’ as he pleaded for more involvement from allies in peace negotiations and offered to pay for more anti-missile systems. In response, the US made lukewarm promises of taking ‘diplomatic steps’ to help the Ukrainian government.

Zelensky, who claimed 1,300 Ukrainian troops have been killed so far and 500 Russians surrendered yesterday, also said Putin’s forces can only take Kyiv if they ‘raze the city to the ground’, with Kremlin troops inching closer to the capital and conflict raging nearby today, endangering attempted evacuations.

But there appear to be signs of slight progress in negotiations, with Zelensky saying the warring countries have begun discussing ‘concrete’ proposals rather than just ‘exchanging ultimatums’, although he said any negotiations must begin with a ceasefire.

Smoke billows from burning containers after shelling in Vasylkiv, south west of Kyiv, Ukraine today

The conciliatory tone was not resonating in the Kremlin though, with Putin raging after a 75-minute call with Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz that Ukraine was guilty of ‘extrajudicial reprisals against dissidents, taking civilians hostage, using them as human shields, [and] putting heavy armaments in civilian areas near hospitals, schools, kindergartens’.

Scholz and Macron implored Putin to end the war and stop the brutal siege of Mariupol but a French official said he did not show any willingness for calling off his inhumane invasion.

Russian armoured vehicles are still slowly advancing on Kyiv’s northeast after being stalled for days, and a military airfield south of the city in Vasylkiv has been hit by missiles, destroying the runway, a fuel depot and an ammunition store.

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