‘You’ll die in this pit’: Takeaways from secret recordings of Russian soldiers in Ukraine

by Chloe Baker
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Russian Soldiers Ukraine Conflict

“Insights from Covert Recordings of Russian Soldiers in Ukraine: A Look into the Conflict Through Their Perspective”

Covertly captured conversations of Russian soldiers communicating with their loved ones while stationed on the front lines in Ukraine provide a rare and revealing window into the ongoing conflict as seen from the Russian standpoint.

These recordings shed light on the evolving nature of the war, from the initial involvement of professional soldiers in Vladimir Putin’s large-scale invasion to the recruitment of individuals from diverse backgrounds who find themselves compelled to serve in grueling conditions.

The authenticity of the individuals featured in these calls has been corroborated by the Associated Press (AP) through interviews with their relatives and fellow soldiers, some of whom are still actively engaged in combat in Ukraine. Additionally, open-source information related to the soldiers’ phone numbers was researched. To safeguard the soldiers and their families, AP has chosen not to disclose their names or specific identifying details. The conversations, recorded in January 2023, with some originating from the vicinity of the protracted and deadliest battle in Bakhmut, have been edited for brevity and clarity.

At the time these soldiers reached out to their loved ones, the war was entering its most perilous phase, resulting in the loss of tens of thousands of Russian lives. As Moscow races to replenish its troops, the voices of these soldiers serve as a sobering warning. These men subsist on rainwater, have resorted to using knives in fatal encounters, and are acutely aware that their survival has hinged on sheer luck. Forgotten and drained, they yearn to return home.

The Enigmatic “Crazy Professor”

Dubbed the “Crazy Professor” due to his unkempt appearance, he was conscripted during Russia’s September 2022 draft. Plagued by the haunting notion that he may have caused harm to children, he has since gone AWOL. In an interview with AP conducted in June, he confessed, “I imagined that there, on the other side, there could be young people just like us. And they have their whole lives ahead of them.” He emphasized the shared humanity between the warring sides, acknowledging the commonality of bones and tears.

Artyom’s Perspective

Artyom perceived the war as senseless, apart from its potential as an escape from the financial debts he had accumulated in Russia. Speaking from Ukraine, where he had been stationed for over eight months, he expressed deep love for his family, intensified by his experiences on the front lines. He regrets not having spent more time with them. In conversations with his wife, he conveyed the pervasive gloom among his comrades. While desertion might appear logical if the opportunity arises, Artyom is resolute in his commitment to stay. He stated, “I have to save the guys who are with me in the trenches — and myself. That’s what I want to do. And to put down the Ukrainians faster and go home.”

Roman’s Cautionary Tale

Before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Roman worked at a law firm, as documented in records. Swept up in Putin’s September 2022 mobilization, he now offers a stark piece of advice: Avoid this war by any means possible. His journey has involved surviving on rainwater, witnessing the gruesome reality of war, and engaging in knife-wielding ambushes. He confessed, “I already feel more pity shooting a bird than a person.” Roman’s message is clear: Seek exemption from service if there is even a faint opportunity.

Andrei’s Desperation

After spending four months in Ukraine, Andrei reached the disheartening conclusion that his life held no value in the eyes of Moscow. Mobilized soldiers like him, he explained to his mother, are treated as expendable, denied the option to leave even when they fall ill or sustain injuries, out of fear that they will never return. His bleak prediction to his mother was, “You’ll die in this pit where you live.” Her response, tinged with resignation, reflects the dire circumstances: “Better not get sick.”

In a conversation with AP in September, Andrei’s mother shared her perspective, lamenting the transformation of her homeland, Ukraine, into an unrecognizable place filled with what she perceives as “traitors and fascists.” She expressed her concern for the future, stating, “Are you blind or stupid, or can’t you see that there are no normal people? Or do you want your children to turn into monkeys like in America?”

This collection of clandestine recordings provides a unique glimpse into the lived experiences of Russian soldiers, highlighting the human toll and complexities of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Contributions to this report were made by AP reporters Lynn Berry in Washington and Alla Konstantinova in Vilnius, Lithuania. Additionally, students from the Russian translation and interpretation program at Middlebury Institute of International Studies provided valuable insights.

For more in-depth coverage, visit https://bigbignews.net/russia-ukraine

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Russian Soldiers Ukraine Insights

Q: What is the significance of these covertly recorded conversations of Russian soldiers in Ukraine?

A: These recordings provide a rare and unfiltered look into the experiences of Russian soldiers on the front lines of the Ukraine conflict. They offer valuable insights into the evolving nature of the war, the emotional toll on soldiers, and the complexities of their motivations and decisions.

Q: How were the identities of the soldiers in the recordings verified?

A: The Associated Press (AP) verified the soldiers’ identities by conducting interviews with their relatives and fellow soldiers. Additionally, open-source information related to the soldiers’ phone numbers was researched to confirm their authenticity.

Q: Why have the names and identifying details of the soldiers been withheld?

A: To protect the safety and privacy of the soldiers and their families, AP has chosen not to disclose their names or specific identifying details.

Q: What are some of the key perspectives shared by the soldiers in these recordings?

A: The soldiers express a range of emotions and experiences, from the moral and emotional dilemmas they face to the harsh conditions of their service. Some express regret and sorrow, while others offer cautionary advice to avoid the war if possible.

Q: How does this text shed light on the human toll of the Ukraine conflict?

A: The text highlights the profound impact of the conflict on individual soldiers, both physically and emotionally. It emphasizes the sacrifices they make and the challenges they endure while serving on the front lines.

Q: What is the broader context of these covert recordings in the Ukraine conflict?

A: These recordings contribute to a better understanding of the human side of the war, beyond the geopolitical aspects. They serve as a reminder of the personal sacrifices and challenges faced by those involved in the conflict.

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