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Russian PoW’s film shows cruelty and chaos as bungled Ukraine invasion crumbles, writes IAN BIRRELL

 A Russian tank officer who was captured after one month combating in Ukraine was discovered to have been filming a house film concerning the invasion on his cell phone.

The footage, wherein he talks about comrades being changed into ‘scraps of meat’ and ‘mince’, presents an astonishing perception into Moscow’s spluttering invasion as his gun jams, his automobile explodes and a raid on a Ukrainian army base goes flawed.

It was filmed by Yuri Shalaev – a 23-year-old lieutenant who skilled at Moscow’s prime army academy and was stationed in Chechnya earlier than the warfare – in defiance of Kremlin orders to keep away from utilizing personal cell phones on safety grounds.

Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Kyiv’s inside ministry, says: ‘This is very rare since 95 per cent of the occupiers do not take their phones and if they do, very few of them have smartphones, since most come from poorer regions of Russia. It is significant since it shows the callous actions and chaotic military approach of the Russian forces.’

Prepared: Lieutenant Shalaev trained at Moscow¿s leading military academy

Prepared: Lieutenant Shalaev skilled at Moscow’s main army academy

Shalaev, the commander of a motorised platoon, was captured final month after three days cowering with two injured comrades in a Donbas village basement following an assault on their armoured personnel provider (APC).

His video materials – which begins with completely satisfied household scenes as he offers his daughter a pink bike and ends with the frightened officer whispering in hiding to his wounded comrades – has been spliced right into a documentary by Ukrainian journalists.

They additionally obtained his textual content message conversations with 172 different troopers concerned within the invasion, exposing dismay over heavy losses, fury with shoddy gear, incidents of troops refusing to battle and ill-equipped riot police being despatched into battle.

Three days after the warfare started, for instance, one soldier says there are three vans stuffed with corpses from 5 regiments. ‘That is true,’ says one other recruit, earlier than including: ‘Many just ran away.’

Another determined soldier says he’s the one officer surviving in Kharkiv, the nation’s second metropolis that was attacked firstly of the warfare and is slowly returning to regular life after Ukraine pushed again Russian forces a fortnight in the past. ‘I’m at risk, I’m wounded,’ he writes, pleading for assist.

The extraordinary video begins a number of months earlier than the warfare with film of Shalaev’s household celebration, singing alongside to patriotic pop songs and consuming whisky with an uncle who finally ends up urinating on himself and struggling to clamber on to a mattress.

In one scene filmed at a celebration, well dressed younger folks belt out a preferred track known as Officers that comprises strains such as ‘Officers, officers, your heart is at the gunpoint, for Russia and freedom to the end’.

The actuality proved fairly completely different after Shalaev – who’s from a small city close to the Arctic Circle – was taken to Crimea, bussed into southern Ukraine and then dropped at the Donbas frontline.

Twelve days into the warfare, the younger Russian officer filmed himself looking for weapons at what seems to be a captured Ukrainian position.

‘B****, will at least one gun be here?’ he asks, making an attempt to open a protected marked ‘Combat control documents’ and filming an empty arsenal. ‘Damn, did they really keep the f****** defence here or did we shoot this place for nothing?’

Then he swears once more and laughs bitterly. A number of days later he movies two males with injured palms inside his automobile and then begins speaking about taking ‘the dead guy’ from an engineering battalion, describing him as ‘ground meat – just mince’.

He additionally highlights the army uncertainty amid their bungled invasion. ‘They began building the bridges and they got bombed. Now they don’t know what to do. Regroup? Don’t regroup?’

As the times go, Shalaev admits on a number of events to dropping monitor of time and then appears to be like happy as he boasts on March 29 that ‘yesterday I took a bath’.

In the next frames, he tells a baffled colleague that ‘I am making a video’ as he movies via a slotted window whereas they trundle alongside, earlier than they drive previous destroyed army automobiles beside a wooded space.

Home movie: Stills from Yuri Shalaev¿s video showing Russian forces on the move and, right, a soldier with his arm in a sling

Home film: Stills from Yuri Shalaev’s video exhibiting Russian forces on the transfer and, proper, a soldier along with his arm in a sling 

‘They blew up the APC,’ he exclaims. ‘F***. Here as well. Are they ours or theirs?’

Then he swears once more in panic. ‘Gotta get the hell out of here, they’ll blow us up as nicely. We’ve been underneath assault for 3 hours now. They are f****** us up.’ There is thick black smoke forward as he orders colleagues to ‘shoot them’. But there’s solely the scrunching sound of a jammed gun, prompting extra swearing.

Next, Shalaev is in one other village saying ‘our vehicle exploded’. He later advised Ukrainian captors that his APC was hit by a mortar or grenade, main him to flee into hiding with two wounded colleagues in a Donbas basement.

He appears relieved to see a Russian automobile forward, however there’s smoke billowing from it as he movies small bits of a human physique on the muddy floor. ‘Someone’s flesh. Someone blew up. Scraps of meat. Here it’s. We had been in it. F*** me, it’s achieved,’ he says.

The ultimate scenes, blurred as if shot whereas zooming in from a hiding place, present Ukrainian troopers strolling alongside as one drops to his knees. ‘I can’t determine what the hell he’s doing,’ whispers Shalaev. ‘Is he putting a mine there?’

The 24-minute documentary known as The Occupant was put collectively by Ukrayinska Pravda, an internet information outlet.

Found, PoW¿s film of cruelty and chaos as bungled invasion crumbles

Found, PoW’s film of cruelty and chaos as bungled invasion crumbles

‘This is a person who came to occupy our land and it felt important to share it,’ mentioned Mykhailo Tkach, its head of investigations. ‘It shows the life of a Russian soldier – having fun, drinking with his friends, drinking with his uncle – but then we see how it ends with his capture. But he made the choice to come to a foreign country and commit war crimes.’

After Shalaev’s seize, a Ukrainian army brigade fashioned by Russians searching for to overthrow Vladimir Putin approached him and a number of others from his battalion to see if they’d defect. The unit claims some prisoners of warfare from the Chechnya-based pressure have agreed to hitch their battle.

Shalaev’s use of a cell phone shows once more the dangers of Russian troops utilizing civilian communications after such actions reportedly led to the loss of life of 1 basic tracked down by Ukraine after a name he made was intercepted.

Many Russian troopers took their cell phones into battle regardless of being advised to depend on their army communications for safety. When Ukrainian leaders realised this, they stopped Russian numbers engaged on their cellphone community.

So the invading troops began to grab telephones from civilians in occupied areas, who typically tipped off officers so the numbers might be tapped. This has led to the discharge of damning intercepted conversations from Russian troops discussing homicide, rape and torture.

Yevhen Yenin, Kyiv’s first deputy minister of inside affairs, mentioned authorities had been accumulating video footage from captured troopers. ‘They are important since in some cases they contain direct evidence of war crimes,’ he added.

Additional reporting by Kate Baklitskaya

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