KYIV. 30 September UNN. The Ukrainian capital was to fall in a matter of days. But due to tactical mistakes and fierce Ukrainian resistance, Putin’s destructive offensive quickly stopped. From trenches, dugouts and occupied buildings, Russian soldiers disobeyed orders, calling their wives, girlfriends, friends and parents hundreds of kilometers from the front line on their mobile phones. The New York Times has obtained exclusive records of thousands of calls that were made during March and intercepted by Ukrainian law enforcement agencies, reports UNN.
Journalists verified the authenticity of the calls by matching Russian phone numbers to messaging apps and social media profiles to identify the soldiers and their family members. The Times spent nearly two months translating the transcripts, which have been edited for clarity.
The calls, made by dozens of soldiers of the airborne units and the national guard of Russia, have not been published before and give an insight into the armed forces. Soldiers describe low morale and equipment shortages, and say they were lied to about the mission they were performing, all of which have contributed to recent setbacks in Russia’s campaign in eastern Ukraine.
The conversations range from casual to violent and include harsh criticism of Putin and the military leadership, remarks that could be punishable under Russian law.
Soldiers complain of strategic mistakes and acute shortages of supplies. They admit to capturing and killing civilians and openly admit to looting Ukrainian homes and businesses. Many say they want to break their military contracts and refute the propaganda broadcast by the Russian mass media, the harsh realities of the war around them.
Soldiers describe tactical lapses and complain that they lack weapons and basic equipment such as night vision devices and body armor.
Frustrated by constant setbacks and fearing for their lives, Russian soldiers say they are fed up with the army. They are thinking about shortening their contracts or even deserting.
Many are motivated to stay for another reason: they need payment. In addition to their monthly salary, the soldiers say they earn the equivalent of $53 a day in combat pay, three times the average salary in hometowns like Pskov, where many of the paratroopers come from.
Relatives of soldiers react in different ways. Some urge them to leave, others ask them to stay strong.
“In Russia, Mr. Putin has reframed the failed campaign as an attempt not to capture Kyiv, but to weaken Ukrainian forces. As quickly as they arrived, Russian soldiers north of Kyiv retreated, regrouped and turned east, where Russian-backed separatists are already waging war more than eight years.
On April 1, Ukrainian law enforcement agencies and journalists entered the liberated territories of the Kyiv region for the first time since the beginning of March. The grim reality of the Russian occupation, which soldiers and their families had conveyed in private, was now visible to the whole world,” the New York Times concluded.
More conversations of the occupiers for link