Former Russian officer describes quitting the army from guilt and shame after being deployed to invade Ukraine

·3-min read
Ukrainian soldier standing next to a destroyed Russian military vehicle in Kharkiv
A Ukrainian soldier stands next to a destroyed Russian anti-aircraft missile system in the village of Husarivka on April 14, 2022.Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters
  • An unnamed Russian soldier who was fighting in Ukraine told CNN he quit the army.

  • The soldier told CNN he hid from locals because he felt ashamed to be invading Ukraine.

  • Russian forces in Ukraine have been struggling with low morale, Western officials have said.

A former Russian officer told CNN on Monday he quit the army, citing his guilt and shame at being deployed to invade Ukraine.

The man, who was not named, told CNN that before the conflict in Ukraine he was stationed in the southern Russian city of Krasnodar.

But on February 24 — the day Russia launched its full-scale invasion — he and his comrades were told to hand in their phones and travel to Crimea, the Ukrainian region annexed by Russia in 2014.

Two days after their arrival, they were then ordered to head to the northwest of Ukraine, in the direction of the city of Kherson, he said.

Kherson was one of the first cities to be captured by Russia. Sources there told Insider in March that Russia's occupation had made the town a hellscape filled with dead bodies, where those still alive struggled to eat.

"To be honest, I thought that we would not go to Ukraine," the man told CNN. "I didn't think it would come to this at all."

"Some guys refused [to go] outright. They wrote a report and left. I don't know what happened to them. I stayed. I do not know why. The next day we went," he added.

The officer was referring to the act of writing a resignation report, a method soldiers can use to inform their superiors that they are quitting the military, and why.

Upon their arrival in a village outside of Kherson, the Russian officer told CNN he was hiding his face from locals because he felt ashamed.

"We had a radio receiver and we could listen to the news," the man told CNN. "That's how I learned that shops are closing in Russia and the economy is collapsing. I felt guilty about this. But I felt even more guilty because we came to Ukraine."

"In the end, I gathered my strength and went to the commander to write a letter of resignation," he added. He said the commander first refused to accept his resignation and accused him of betrayal.

"But I stood my ground," he told CNN. He said wrote his resignation report there and then, and is now relieved to be with his family in Russia. It is unclear what rank the officer was.

The CNN report came after a top US intelligence chief warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin will "likely" impose martial law to keep the war going in Ukraine.

Russian forces in Ukraine have been struggling with low morale and the refusal of some troops to obey orders, according to assessments by Western officials.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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