Russian Soldiers Defy Putin & Speak Out Against Ukraine Invasion

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In Ukraine, “three captured Russian air force pilots who spoke to CNN did not suggest they were speaking under duress” in expressing opposition to Vladimir Putin’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, according to the news outlet. Authorities in the targeted country claim to have captured hundreds of Russian soldiers, and a small number of them have appeared at official press conferences, where one — a Russian recon officer named Vladimir — commented: “Our government told us we need to liberate the civilian population. I want to tell Russian servicemen: lay down your arms and leave your stations, don’t come here. Everyone wants peace here… I want to tell our commander-in-chief to stop terror acts in Ukraine because when we come back we’ll rise against him.” Reports have circulated suggesting morale problems among Russian troops, something that would seem to be confirmed here.

As for the pilots who spoke with CNN, one of them — named Maxim — cast doubt on Putin’s propaganda about Nazism in Ukraine that functioned as a pretext for the war. As Maxim put it regarding the sweeping Nazism allegation:

‘I think it was invented as a pretext and is something that the world cannot understand… But Putin and his circle need this in order to achieve their own objectives. One such step was that it would be beneficial for them to spread disinformation about fascism and Nazism… We didn’t see any Nazis or fascists. Russians and Ukrainians can communicate in the same language, so we see the good (in these people)… It’s hard to give a direct assessment of his actions. But, at the bare minimum, judging by the consequences of his orders, he is incorrect.’

Maxim also expressed turmoil to CNN about the suffering that has been inflicted on civilians in Ukraine. As he put it, “It’s not just about demilitarizing Ukraine or the defeat of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, but now cities of peaceful civilians are being destroyed. Even, I don’t know, what can justify, fuck, the tears of a child, or even worse, the deaths of innocent people, children.” Maxim also said that in his unit members “have many relatives and friends [in Ukraine], and they were told it was an operation localized to the DNR [the breakaway Russian-backed Donetsk area], and not an attack on the whole country.” In Russia, thousands and thousands of detentions have been recorded in connection to protests against the war — more than 14,000 arrests have been recorded, in fact. The Russian government has also imposed new restrictions on spreading so-called fake news related to the war in Ukraine and calling for unapproved public action related to the issue — and potential penalties include up to 15 years in prison.