A Russian officer has spoken out against Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine and told an American news outlet that he and many other soldiers “did not understand the goal” of the invasion. The soldier said that his unit was ordered into Ukraine from Crimea on February 24 and said that despite the Kremlin’s rhetoric over “combating Ukrainian Nazis” many of his comrades did not understand the reason for their mission.
CNN National Correspondent Suzanne Malveaux said: “So he was a part of this unit, February 22 the build-up…the troop build up along the border with Ukraine, and it was that evening that they will order to give over their cell phones that he lost communication with the rest of the world.
“They were ordered to paint the Z’s on their military vehicles later to symbolise the invasion of Ukraine.
“But again, no idea that that was in fact the mission the following day.
“They were in Crimea he did not know they were going to move forward in that a Russian controlled territory.
“But on February 24, he says yes, he was part of the launch of the war inside of Ukraine.
“He said many of his comrades, as well as himself, did not understand the goal.
“He tells CNN and I’m quoting here, ‘We were not hammered with some kind of Ukrainian Nazi rhetoric, many did not understand what this was all for, and what we’re doing here.’
“The officer describing their drive towards Karason, and actually confronting Ukrainian locals saying here I’m quoting ‘In general when we saw the locals we tend stop, some of them had weapons underneath their clothes and when they got closer, they fired.'”
It comes as Kyiv revealed its worst military losses from a single attack of the Ukraine war on Monday, saying 87 people had been killed last week when Russian forces struck a barracks housing troops at a training base in the north.
The disclosure that scores had been killed in the attack demonstrated Russia’s ability to inflict huge losses, even far from the front.
Previously, Kyiv had said eight people died in the May 17 strike on the barracks in the town of Desna.
“Today we completed work at Desna. In Desna, under the rubble, there were 87 casualties. Eighty-seven corpses,” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said during a speech by video link to business leaders in Davos, Switzerland.
Brexit LIVE: British food crisis breakthrough looms
Putin’s recent public appearances ‘staged’ with old videos
Russian forces lose 184 military vehicles in Donbas within week
Moscow had said at the time that it hit a training base with long-range missiles. The toll Zelenskiy announced on Monday was more than double the number killed in a similar attack on a Ukrainian training base in Yaraviv in the west in March.
“History is at a turning point… This is really the moment when it is decided whether brute force will rule the world,” Zelenskiy said in his address, calling for maximum economic sanctions on Russia.
In the latest fighting at the battlefront, Kyiv said it had held off a Russian assault on Sievierodonetsk, an eastern city that has become the main target of Moscow’s offensive since it seized Mariupol last week.
Russian forces tried to storm Sievierodonetsk but were unsuccessful and retreated, Zelenskiy’s office said. Moscow has been pushing to overrun the city as it tries to encircle Ukrainian forces and fully capture Luhansk and Donetsk provinces, the Donbas region it claims on behalf of separatists.