Russian Soldier Said It Was Weeks Before He Knew He Invaded Ukraine


  • A former Russian paratrooper said he did not understand why his unit invaded Ukraine.
  • Pavel Filatyev told the Guardian it took him weeks to realize that Russia was not under attack.
  • The Kremlin spread a propaganda story that it started the war in Ukraine to defend itself.

A former Russian soldier who invaded Ukraine as part of an airborne unit said it took him weeks to realize that the war had not been provoked and that his homeland had not been attacked.

Pavel Filatyev served with the 56th Airborne Regiment of the Russian Army, which is part of the country’s elite airborne troops in Crimea. He spent weeks fighting in southern Ukraine and recounted his experiences in a 141-page memoir titled “ZOV,” referring to Russia’s pro-war symbol. In early August, he published his experiences on social media.

In a recent interview with Moscow-based The Guardian, 33-year-old Filatyev described how his VDV unit entered Ukraine in late February with no information about logistics or objectives and little understanding of what had caused the war in the first place.

“It took me weeks to understand that there was no war at all on Russian soil and that we had just attacked Ukraine,” Filateev told The Guardian.

Leading up to the Russian invasion, the Kremlin’s propaganda operation was working overtime to spread quite a few baseless stories that they could use to justify military action against Ukraine.

False stories by Russian President Vladimir Putin included blaming NATO’s expansion and characterizing it as a security threat, claiming with no evidence that Ukraine committed genocide against ethnic Russians, claiming that Ukraine is not a real country, and unfounded concerns about nuclear weapons.

For weeks, Western intelligence agencies and leaders warned that Russia would use these false stories to justify the invasion of Ukraine, no matter what Putin’s forces did.

In his newly released memoir, Filatyev described how his elite unit was tired, malnourished and ill-equipped as they stormed into Ukraine. He said he had been deployed in the war with a rusty rifle that jammed and came with a broken belt.

Filatyev said that when his unit arrived in Kherson – the first major Ukrainian city to fall in Russia – his fellow soldiers behaved “like savages” and looted food, computers, valuables and clothing.

“We didn’t care, we were already pushed to the limit. Most of them had spent a month in the fields without a trace of comfort, a shower or normal food,” said the ex-paratrooper.

“Everything around us made us feel bad,” he wrote. “As wretches, we were just trying to survive.” Insider has not been able to independently verify the details of what happened in Kherson from Filatyev’s memoir, although the Guardian was able to review documents that are allegedly proving its favour.

Filatyev said he was injured in an artillery battle and evacuated from the conflict after his eye became dangerously infected. Amid concerns he could face some sort of punishment for his revelations, he left Russia this week.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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