Weeping Russian prisoners of war have said they had no idea they were being sent to invade Ukraine and were used like ‘cannon fodder’ by commanders who threw them into battle against ‘peaceful people defending their territory’ after Vladimir Putin’s forces took heavy losses in the opening days of the conflict.
Ukraine war: The latest
- Russian paratroopers land in Ukraine’s second city amid heavy fighting
- ‘There are practically no areas left in Kharkiv where an artillery shell has not yet hit’: Interior Ministry official
- Joe Biden brands Vladimir Putin a ‘dictator’ in his annual State of the Union address as he bans Russian aircraft from US airspace
- Russia steps up its bombing campaign and missile strikes, hitting Kyiv’s main television tower, two residential buildings in a town west of the city and the city of Bila Tserkva to the south of the capital
- Russian forces push into the besieged Black Sea city of Kherson in the south
- Russian attacks leave Mariupol, another Black Sea port further to the west without electricity
- More than 677,000 people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion, the UN’s refugee agency says
- The UN’s International Court of Justice says it will hold public hearings on March 7 and 8 over Ukraine’s allegations of ‘genocide’ by Russia
- Russia blocks an independent television channel and a liberal radio station, tightening a virtual media blackout
- A string of Western companies announce they are freezing or scaling back business with Russia
- Russians race to withdraw cash after the introduction of capital controls and as the ruble hits record lows
- Russian-owned Nord Stream 2 goes insolvent after Germany halts the pipeline following Moscow’s invasion
- Oil prices soar past $110 a barrel, despite agreements to release 60 million barrels from stockpiles
- The World Bank prepares a $3-billion aid package for Ukraine, including $350 million in immediate funds
‘This is not our war. Mothers and wives, collect your husbands. There is no need to be here,’ an injured soldier sat in front of a Ukrainian flag was filmed saying. Other footage showed handcuffed Russian prisoner crying, while saying: ‘They don’t even pick up the corpses, there are no funerals’.
Ukraine says Russia has lost 5,840 soldiers in the opening days of the conflict – some of its fastest losses since the Second World War, if the figure proves accurate – with Putin’s men suffering a series of embarrassing defeats as they tried to pull off a quick victory but instead met with stiff resistance from Ukrainian forces.
Russia’s advance has since slowed to a crawl as commanders regroup, change strategy, and renew their assault in what is now expected to become an increasingly bloody war of resources with Kyiv’s men facing overwhelming odds. The Ministry of Defence said Russia had renewed the fight on ‘all fronts’ Wednesday and ‘suffered losses’.
Kherson, an important port city in Ukraine’s south, appeared to be an early casualty as Russian tanks occupied the city centre overnight and then began arriving in numbers. Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, also came under heavy bombardment in the early hours as paratroopers dropped in, sparking gunfights near a military hospital.
Mariupol, another key port city in Ukraine’s south, is also reported to be under heavy bombardment as Russian forces attempt to encircle it. If the city falls then Putin’s men are expected to push northwards, trying to encircle Ukrainian forces fighting near Donetsk and force them to surrender.
While both US and Ukrainian intelligence believes morale within the Russian ranks is low, Putin and his commanders have showed no sign they are about to give up the fight – and have instead vowed to press even harder to try and capture key objectives.
Sergey Shoigu, the country’s defence minister, said on Tuesday that they offensive would keep going until all objectives had been completed – which he said was the removal of threats to Russia by the West.
Volodymyr Zelensky has said that Russia is trying to erase Ukraine and its people as Vladimir Putin’s invasion entered its seventh day today with renewed attacks on all fronts including an expected assault on the city which houses Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.
Zelensky, who has become a symbol of Ukrainian defiance and courage since the war began, told his people today that Russians ‘know nothing about our capital. About our history. But they have an order to erase our history. Erase our country. Erase us all.’
Captured Russian soldiers have been filmed describing themselves as ‘cannon fodder’ and warning ‘everyone is going in columns and they all die’
Captured Russian soldiers (left and right), speaking in video posted to the Ukraine security services’ Facebook page, claimed they were ‘deceived’ and did not realise they were going to invade Ukraine
Footage shows captured a handcuffed Russian prisoner crying over the death and destruction wrought by the war, saying: ‘They don’t even pick up the corpses, there are no funerals’
In separate video posted on Telegram showed soldiers saying they were ‘demoralised’ when they realised they were being sent to fight in Ukraine. ‘We were told we would be enemies of the state and because it’s wartime, we might even be shot if we refused. We were thrown in as cannon fodder’
Russian soldiers taking part in the invasion of Ukraine are in ‘complete disarray’, according to voice recordings obtained by a British intelligence company. Above: Images of captured Russian troops
Ukraine’s military said Russia today renewed its assault ‘on all fronts’, with paratroopers landing in Kharkiv, tanks and trucks rolling into the centre of Kherson, and strikes in Mariupol and Zhytomyr
The president, unshaven and wearing a military-style khaki T-shirt, said the West’s response was not enough, calling for more international support, including backing Ukraine’s bid to join the European Union. ‘This is no time to be neutral,’ he added.
But Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov sought to warn western powers away from the conflict today, saying that a Third World War in Europe – should it start – would be ‘nuclear’ and ‘destructive’.
As Russian forces readied themselves to push on with the assault, those wounded and captured by Ukraine in the opening stages were left to reflect on their decisions behind enemy lines. ‘No one has attacked us and what Russia wants from the war, I cannot understand. Mum, Dad, I love you,’ one said.
At least one of the soldiers urged Kyiv and Moscow to evacuate children from the warzone while another warned ‘no-one wants war’. Meanwhile a handcuffed prisoner of war burst into tears and was filmed wiping his eyes after what sounded like a female relative told him ‘I love you’ down the phone.
The intercepted radio messages indicate that troops are refusing to obey central command orders to shell Ukrainian towns and are complaining about running out of supplies of food and fuel. Above: Another captured Russian soldier
He went on to urge the person to call for the end to the war because ‘to these b****es it’s just a case of killing everyone’.
The young soldier also appeared to shed tears for those who die on the battlefield because ‘they have no funeral’.
‘You don’t touch the corpses because otherwise the FSB (Russian federal security service) will arrest you,’ he said.
Another soldier, injured during the fighting, was positioned in front of a Ukrainian flag as he spoke to the camera.
He maintained the claim his troops did not know they were about the invade Ukraine and urged Moscow to end the conflict.
‘We are killing peaceful people,’ he said. ‘This is not our war. Mothers and wives, collect your husbands. There is no need to be here.’
In separate video posted on Telegram showed soldiers saying they were ‘demoralised’ when they realised they were being sent to fight in Ukraine.
‘We were told we would be enemies of the state and because it’s wartime, we might even be shot if we refused. We were thrown in as cannon fodder.’
He also claimed that Russian soldiers ‘in our unit at least, don’t want this war. We want to go home, we want peace.’
Recordings obtained by British intelligence company ShadowBreak revealed Russian soldiers retreating after becoming frustrated with the war, indicating that Moscow’s forces are in ‘complete disarray’.
In one of the eavesdropped conversations, listened to by The Telegraph, a soldier reportedly sounds as though he is crying.
In another, a soldier is heard losing his temper when asking when food or fuel will arrive. He says: ‘We’ve been here for three days! When the hell is it going to be ready?’
A third message reviewed by ShadowBreak reveals a tense exchange in which the same soldier has to remind a colleague speaking from a command centre that they cannot use artillery on an area until civilians – who are labelled ‘the goods’ – have left.
A convoy of Russian vehicles is seen parked along a residential street in an unknown area of Ukraine, in footage released by Russia’s armed forces on Wednesday
The remains of a destroyed Russian military convoy are seen on a street in Bucha, to the south of Kyiv, on Wednesday morning
An armed man stands by the remains of a Russian military vehicle in Bucha, close to the capital Kyiv, Ukraine
Police officers remove the body of a passerby killed in yesterday’s airstrike that hit Kyiv’s main television tower
olice officers examine the bodies of passersby killed in yesterday’s airstrike that hit Kyiv’s main television tower
Police officers stand guard at the site of yesterday’s airstrike that hit Kyiv’s main television tower
The body of a soldier, without insignia, who the Ukrainian military claim is a Russian army serviceman killed in fighting in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine
ShadowBreak’s founder Samuel Cardillo, 26, told The Telegraph he had been sent the messages by amateurs listening in with antennas.
He said: ‘What we have found is that the Russian operatives are operating in complete disarray. They have no clue where they are going and how to really communicate with each other properly.
‘There were periods where we heard them [Russian soldiers] crying in combat, a period where they were insulting each other – obviously not a sign of great morale.’
Mr Cardillo said the some of the messages were also ‘proof of war crimes’ because they revealed ordered to fire missiles into urban areas.
They were among around 24 hours of material obtained by intelligence firm ShadowBreak since the invasion of Ukraine began last week.
In a further sign that morale may be poor, a senior US defence official told the New York Times on Tuesday that some troops have ‘deliberately punched holes’ in their vehicles’ petrol tanks in the hope of avoiding combat.
Parts of the Russian military are also still using analogue ‘walkie talkie’ two-way radios, making them more vulnerable to interception.
Ukrainian forces are also said to have had no problem jamming Russian communications and interrupting them with the sound of their national anthem.
Another recording obtained by ShadowBreak is said to reveal a soldier in tears, pleading with his command: ‘…it’s slow, it’s slow.’
The communications are also said to show that soldiers were told they would meet little resistance upon entering Ukraine.
Instead, Ukrainian forces are now in the seventh day of resistance to the Russian attack and multiple videos reveal civilians confronting the invading troops and convoys.
The new recordings come after Ukraine on Monday paraded captured Russian soldiers in dozens of online videos.
Footage posted online show tied up ‘demoralised and exhausted’ Russian prisoners of war captured after they failed to break through Ukrainian defences in Kyiv and Kharkiv over the weekend.
Several of the videos were posted on a Telegram channel set up on Saturday by Ukraine’s Interior Ministry called ‘Find Your Own’.
Many Russian troops claimed that they believed they were conducting training exercises in the border regions and did not know they were being sent to invade Ukraine.
Part of the Karazin National University campus in the city of Kharkiv is destroyed after being struck by a Russian missile which was seemingly intended for a nearby police or interior ministry building
Firefighters battle to put out a blaze in Kharkiv as the city came under renewed airstrikes today, with an official saying there is almost no area of the city left that has not been hit
Firefighters attempt to put out the burning sociology department of Karazin National University which was hit by a strike seemingly intended for nearby government buildings
Rubble litters the streets of the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv after an early-morning missile strike by Russia
Russian armoured vehicles and trucks are pictured rolling through the centre of Kherson, as Moscow claimed to be in control of the city but Ukraine said it still holds key government buildings
Russian trucks are pictured parked up in the centre of Kherson, in Ukraine’s south, after Moscow’s forces rolled into the city