“Putin is a fool”: recordings reveal the desperation of Russian soldiers on the front

The extracts are damning for the Kremlin. The New York Times published audio recordings from March on Wednesday in which Russian soldiers, sent to Boutcha, in the suburbs of kyiv, are heard talking with their relatives.

From the trenches or the occupied houses, the soldiers secretly telephoned their wives, their brothers, their mothers. These thousands of calls, intercepted by the Ukrainian authorities then authenticated by journalists, reveal the distress of soldiers who do not know what they are doing there, and confirm the existence of war crimes.

“Nobody told us that we were going to war. They warned us a day before our departure,” laments a soldier. “Our attack is at a standstill. We are losing this war,” says a certain Sergey. “We were ordered to kill everyone we see,” another Sergey said. For Alexandre, “Putin is a fool. He wants to take kyiv. But we have no chance of succeeding (…) We can’t take kyiv… We’re taking villages, that’s all. Then he goes on: “Mom, this is the stupidest decision the government has ever made, I think. »

Low morale, lies and lack of equipment

These accounts of failures and executions of civilians follow one another. The American newspaper spent nearly two months translating the recordings and then comparing the Russian soldiers’ numbers with data from messaging apps and their social media accounts. The journalists also verified the identity of the interlocutors.

Soldiers describe troop morale, lack of equipment, lies about the real nature of their mission: all the ingredients that led to the Russian rout in the face of the Ukrainian counter-offensive, in the east of the country . From the great banalities to the crudest remarks, the conversations also contain criticism directly aimed at Vladimir Putin. If they were expressed publicly, their authors would be liable to imprisonment, recalls the New York Times.

“They admit to capturing and killing non-combatants, and they openly admit to looting Ukrainian homes and businesses,” the newspaper notes. Many of them would like to terminate their military contracts, and all refute the propaganda broadcast by the Russian media at home. »

“We were 400, we are 38 survivors”

Calling his girlfriend, Ilya worries about what is being said in the country. And seeks comfort, in vain. “What else do they say?” When will Putin stop all this? Damn,” he gets angry. “Bah, he says that everything is going as planned and on time,” replies his partner. “Well, he is seriously mistaken,” retorts Ilya.

In mid-March, three weeks after the start of the invasion, the Russian army suffered heavy losses. On the phone, the soldiers confirm the carnage. Nikita tells his wife that 90 men were killed around him during an ambush. On a telephone shared by a regiment, Semyon estimates that a third of his comrades have been killed. Another describes rows of coffins containing the bodies of 400 young paratroopers, waiting to be taken home to an airport hangar. “We are 38 survivors. Because the chiefs sent us to the slaughterhouse”.

” The Khokhols (an insult used by the Russians with regard to the Ukrainians and which can be translated as simpletons) advance and we remain planted there… I would never have thought that I would end up in such shit”. This desperation is contagious. “The atmosphere is very negative,” says Andreï to his girlfriend. There’s a guy who’s crying, another is fucking suicidal. They tire me, they make me sick”.

Some express their frustration more strongly than others. Vadim promises his friend that he will “resign”. “God damn it…I’m going back to civilian life.” And my son won’t go to the army either, 100% sure… Tell him he’s going to be a doctor”.

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