Russian soldiers who defected from Vladimir Putin’s army have said they decided to fight for Ukraine after witnessing atrocities committed by their former comrades.
One soldier, who goes by the call sign “Caesar,” said he has shot and killed at least 15 Russian soldiers on the battlefield since joining the Ukrainian Foreign Legion.
“Yes, I am killing my compatriots, but they have become criminals,” said Caesar, who is fighting alongside Ukrainian troops in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region. CNN. “They came to a foreign land to rob and kill and destroy. They kill civilians, children and women.’
Another Russian, known as ‘Silent’, defected and fought for Ukrainian forces when he witnessed the atrocities committed by Russian forces near Kiev. He said seeing the dead bodies of children and women in person “turned everything upside down.”
One soldier, who goes by the callsign “Caesar,” said he has shot and killed at least 15 Russian soldiers on the battlefield since joining the Ukrainian Foreign Legion.
Silent, whose real identity has not been revealed for his safety, was visiting relatives near Kiev when he saw the atrocities in Bucha, Irpin and Borodianka – and decided to stay and fight for Ukrainian forces.
“I was just outside Kiev, not far from those places, and when they were evicted from that area, we went there to help people and saw what they had done,” Silent said.
‘Corpses, children, women, executions… When you see it in real life, of course everything inside is turned upside down. I decided to stay here until the end and join the legion.’
Since Putin’s troops invaded Ukraine nearly 10 months ago, there has been mounting evidence that the soldiers have committed war crimes. Russia is accused of raping hundreds of women and girls, killing and torturing civilians in Russian-occupied cities.
Another defector, identified only by his nickname “Vinnie,” said he knows he will be tortured and killed by Russian forces if captured.
Another defector, identified only by his call sign ‘Vinnie’, said he knows he will be tortured and killed by Russian forces if captured
A Ukrainian soldier walks near a tank in Bakhmut on Monday as the Russian assault on Ukraine continues, in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.
It comes after a former Wagner group mercenary, Yevgeny Nuzhin, 55, was brutally executed with a sledgehammer after switching sides and fighting for Ukraine.
Nuzhin had his head tied to a brick wall and was beaten to death with the sledgehammer when he was recaptured by his former colleagues. His execution was applauded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the infamous group of mercenaries, with the ringleader saying a “dog gets a dog’s death” in response to the clip.
Vinnie says he is sure he will suffer the same fate if recaptured by Russian forces.
‘There will certainly be no exchange. It will be the end, 100 percent,” he said. “It will only be more painful.”
Caesar, Silent and Vinnie are among the hundreds of soldiers fighting Russian troops in the Donetsk region town of Bakhmut.
This is still from a video published on Telegram showing Yevgeny Nuzhin just before his brutal extrajudicial killing by pro-Putin Wagner private military company
Caesar, who is a Christian, said Putin’s war is “insulting” to him and that once Ukraine is “free,” he will fight to free Russia from “tyranny.”
He added: “I believe that these people have transgressed the law of man and the law of God. I don’t feel sorry for them. I’ll capture them if I can. But most of the time I just have to kill them.’
It is not known how many Russian soldiers defected to fight for Ukraine. But in a sign that the number could run into the thousands, Ukraine said in October that 2,000 people had called a Ukrainian hotline to surrender and defect.
Calls have come from soldiers in Ukraine, soldiers still in Russia and conscripted, and some who have not yet received a draft order and want to check the proceedings, Andriy Yusov, a spokesman for Ukraine’s military intelligence, claimed at the time.
And two months later, the “I Want To Live” hotline is still receiving about 100 inquiries a day from Russian soldiers.
It comes after Putin ordered 300,000 conscripts to be sent to the Ukrainian frontline to support his failed invasion.
Meanwhile, in Bakhmut, where ‘Caesar’, ‘Silent’ and ‘Vinnie’ are fighting alongside Ukrainian soldiers, the Ukrainian army said today that its troops had repelled Russian attacks there.
The Ukrainian army’s Grad multiple rocket launcher fires missiles at Russian frontline positions near Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine on Monday
Russian soldiers tried to cut off roads to Bakhmut from the west and northwest, Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said on YouTube.
Donetsk governor Pavlo Kyrylenko told Ukrainian television late Monday that only about 12,000 people remained in Bakhmut, from 80,000 before the war, and that there was no electricity or gas.
In Ukraine’s southern Zaporizhzhia region, at least two people were killed and several homes destroyed by Russian missile strikes on Monday, an official from the presidential office said.
Reuters video showed two bodies next to a damaged car in the village of Novosofiivka, about 25 kilometers east of the city of Zaporizhzhia.
An elderly woman pulls a trolley bag past a destroyed building in Bakhmut, Donetsk region, on Dec. 4
“Both my neighbors were murdered,” said Olha Troshyna, 62. “They were standing by the car… waving goodbye to their son and daughter-in-law.”
Ukraine’s air force shot down more than 60 of more than 70 missiles fired by Russia on Monday.
In recent weeks, Russia has pounded Ukraine’s infrastructure – including power plants – with military strikes and an offensive underway in the east, particularly in and around the city of Bakhmut.
Russian troops also dug near the southern city of Kherson, which Ukrainian forces recaptured last month after an 8-month occupation.