The The New York Times On Wednesday, recordings made by Russian soldiers stationed in Bautza, a suburb of Kew, in March were released. These calls – intercepted by Ukrainian authorities and later authenticated by the press – confirm the soldiers’ distress, their initial certainty of the attack’s failure, and the reality of the war crimes.
Their names are Alexander, Vlad, Sergey, Andrey, Nikita, Yevgeny or Ivan. They were among dozens of Russian soldiers stationed in Bautza, Ukraine, where phone conversations with relatives were intercepted by Ukrainian services last March. Records of these calls, made behind their command, were later sent to The New York Times Who has It posted a lengthy liturgy on its website on Wednesday.
These sounds betray the desperation of soldiers who don’t know what they’re doing there, the intimate belief that the attack they’re leading is already doomed. Above all, they make it possible to gauge the group’s anger against Russian power. Finally, they give a more accurate idea of the war crimes committed in this suburb of Kew, which was liberated by the Ukrainians in late March and early April.
A long work of recognition
As always, when rumors reach us through the intelligence services of a belligerent state, it is important to take into account the methods used to confirm the authenticity of these calls. The The New York Times First admits to receiving them from Ukrainian authorities. Its journalists spent two months translating them and undertaking the arduous task of authentication. Thus they compared the numbers of Russian players with data from their accounts in messaging applications and social networks. They later performed the same functions to certify the identity of their interlocutors.
The The New York Times He concluded that his calls – “Thousands” as the title suggests – were actually from the Russian military, and more precisely from National Guard or Air Force personnel.
At the front, power takes its toll
First, it shows that the Russian military is not waiting for the partial mobilization order ordered last Wednesday to understand that the campaign is not on the right track. The first in charge seems to have it all figured out.
“Putin is an idiot,” Alexander declared over the phone.
“He wants to take the cue. But we’re unlikely to win.” “We can’t take Q… we take villages, that’s all,” he continues. Sergei announces the bad news to his mother: “Our attack has failed. We are losing the war.” He repeats: “Mum, it’s a stupid decision by the government, I think.” At this time, provoking the situation in front with his girlfriend, the same Sergey attacks the command more broadly.
“They wanted to do it all at once and it didn’t go as planned,” he laments.
Calling his girlfriend, Ilya worries about what is being said in the country. And despair of seeing the end of the tunnel soon. “What else are they saying? When is Putin going to stop all this? Oh no,” he fumes. “Well, he says everything is going according to plan and on time,” his interlocutor replied. “Well, he is seriously mistaken”, then Ilya regrets.
“We’re 400, we’re 38”: Massacre over the phone
Already an attack, authorities not fulfilling their objectives, failed political authority.. all these can be seen on the ground since March. And the picture painted by the army is shocking.
“Half the regiment is dead,” Andre points out.
“We were 400 paratroopers”, Sergei signals to his mother, continuing: “We are 38 survivors. Because the leaders sent us to the slaughterhouse”. And, of course, morale is low. Nikita laments: “‘Gogols’ (an insult used by Russians for Ukrainians and can be translated as ‘Hicks‘, editor’s note) forward, we are there… I would never have thought that I would be in such a predicament”. That despair is not only personal, but also testified by these words of Andrei to his beloved:
“The environment is so negative. There’s one guy crying, another one committing suicide, oh my. They make me tired, they make me sick”.
Difficulties of loved ones
At the other end of the line, families and loved ones are still not brave enough. His future wife is disturbed by the dead around her.
“Vanya, the coffins keep coming. We’re burying one after another. It’s a nightmare.”
Entourage also describes the economic consequences of the war in the country: an explosion in food prices, shortages, brands and multinationals closing their doors to punish the aggressor. A panorama with déjà vu for Yevgeny’s wife:
“When you come back, you’ll feel like you’ve traveled back to the 1990s,” she tells him.
If people can only see the impact of conflict on their daily lives and not be fooled, soldiers fight its coverage through propaganda. “They’re telling people nonsense on TV: “It’s okay, it’s not a war, it’s a special operation. But in reality, it was a bloody war,” Sergei tells his friend.
“These bastards don’t say anything”: war veterans wonder
A “damn war” then. But they did not sign it. On the phone, the soldiers return to the circumstances of the invasion, which began on February 24. These industry veterans were also shocked by the combination of partial demobilization failures and lack of training for new recruits ordered by the Kremlin last Wednesday.
“We weren’t told we were going to war. They warned us the day before,” Sergei assures his mother.
Nikita, for her part, talks to a friend. But he returns the same echo: “We had to train for two or three days. We were screwed like kids, damn it”. Finally, Alexey reassures his girlfriend: “I didn’t expect that. They told us we were going to train. These bastards didn’t tell us anything”.
“Corpses on the Road”: A Story of War Crimes
However, the leaders are not silent. They ship some orders. And these are cooling. Leaked records support the reality of war crimes in Boutcha – denied by Moscow to this day – when the Ukrainians liberated the town in early April, where they found around 1,100 corpses.
Sergei slips in: “We were given orders to kill everyone we met.” Also, it turns a tree into a mass grave. “There’s a forest here, where the division has its headquarters. I walked there and saw a sea of corpses in civilian clothes, a sea, I’ve never seen so many bodies in my life. It’s really crazy,” he told his mother.
“Damn, there are dead bodies on the ground by the road. Civilians,” Nikita admits to her friend.
“I’ve got an apartment in my pocket”: loud banging
When the dead found along the way were not civilians, they could prove cynically useful to the helpless Russians.
“Some guys took equipment from the corpses of Ukrainians. They have NATO equipment, which is better than ours,” Sergey explains to his girlfriend.
If these spoils of war are related to survival, there is no reason for others to help themselves at home. The heist stories overlap. Nikita expresses his disgust to a friend:
“Everything was robbed. They drank all the wine, took all the money. Everybody does it here.”
Not everyone has its virtue and does not hesitate to eat the beast. Sometimes, to the chagrin of their interlocutor. This is the case of Alexander, who boasts to his life sharer, “Start looking for an apartment in Orenburg.” “Why?” His future wife wondered. “Okay with Misha, we went to a house and opened a cache with the key. 5.2 million rubles (almost 935,000 euros, ed)”, he explains. “Give them back,” he orders the soldier’s companion, who then hears himself reply:
“I’m not stupid. I have an apartment in my pocket”.
“Chill the Army”
The disappointment is palpable. Some hide it less than others. Vadim promises his girlfriend that he will “resign”. “In the name of God… I am going back to civilian life. And my son will not go to army either, 100% sure… tell me he is going to be a doctor”, he growls.
Vlad was more succinct: “When I return, I resign. Fuck the army”.
“Alcohol enthusiast. Twitter ninja. Tv lover. Falls down a lot. Hipster-friendly coffee geek.”
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