A series of leaked phone calls made by Russian soldiers in the early days of the Ukraine invasion and recently obtained by The New York Times paints a grim picture of what life on the ground is really like for Putin’s army.
According to the report, soldiers who were part of the March campaign to take Ukraine’s capital city, Kyiv, disobeyed orders by making dozens of phone calls home to friends and family members via unsecured cell phones. Ukrainian law enforcement agencies intercepted the calls, and The NYT spent two months translating and verifying their authenticity. What they reveal is a damning account of how Putin’s generals have handled the invasion.
Just weeks into the campaign, soldiers complained about a lack of direction and heavy losses suffered because of incompetent leadership.
Some claimed they weren’t even told they would be leaving the country to “liberate” Ukraine, instead believing they were shipping out for training camp.
Others complained about the lack of food and equipment, claiming rations were running low and soldiers were trading in rusty armor and weaponry for Ukrainian models.
The men relayed they’d witnessed hundreds of deaths with some saying large percentages of their own units had been wiped out in the early days of the fighting. Others were shocked at the number of corpses piling up in city streets in the Bucha region, saying they were given free rein to kill civilians and dump their bodies in a nearby forest.
But, likely the biggest sign that Putin is losing this war is the criticisms launched at him by his own military. Despite facing harsh penalties for speaking badly of the Russian president and his operation in Kyiv, many soldiers slammed Putin for starting a war he won’t be able to win.
These recordings are likely just another nail in the Kremlin’s coffin at this point, but they’ll hopefully bolster the position of Russian civilians, who are already protesting a recent “partial mobilization.”
(Via The New York Times)