According to an ex-paratrooper in the Russian army, Putin’s men had no notion they were invading Ukraine until they were met with back fire by Kiev forces.
Pavel Filatiev, 33, said he awoke at 2 a.m. on February 24 to the sound of gunshots in the rear of an army vehicle crossing the border.
‘Are we shooting at advancing Ukrainians?’ he inquired.
‘It wasn’t apparent where we were heading or why. It was obvious that a true conflict had started. I discovered [we had] instructions to travel to Kherson.’
As the bombardment began and Ukrainian forces opened fire on Russian vehicles, Filatiev realized he had invaded the neighboring nation.
‘It became evident that we had assaulted Ukraine,’ he remarked.
Filatiev has exposed alarming flaws in his new book, ranging from ill-fitting clothing to army medics without needles or medications.
The paratrooper was part in the first bungled assault but had to leave due to medical reasons.
Russian officers are using “grandfather tactics,” he claims.
‘We had no moral right to attack another nation, particularly the ones closest to us,’ Pavel wrote in heartbreaking excerpts highlighted by independent media sources iStories and Meduza.
‘When it all began, I knew very few individuals who believed in Nazis and, furthermore, who wanted to fight Ukraine.’
‘There was no hostility, and we did not see Ukrainians as adversaries.’
‘The majority of the army is displeased with what is going on there.’
They are angry with the government and their commander, at Putin and his policies, and at the defence minister, who has never served in the army.
‘We’ve all become prisoners to various forces, and I suppose we went carried away.’
‘We began a horrific war.’ A battle in which towns are devastated and children, women, and the elderly are killed.’
The lack of preparedness started when he was given an ill-fitting second-hand outfit.
‘I refused to take a worn outfit that didn’t fit, which caused my relationship with the leadership to worsen,’ he said.
‘I went and purchased myself a pea coat after clashing with my company commander.’
Many troops were ill while training for the war because they lacked the correct outfit.
‘We went to the [training] site for [parachuting],’ he said.
‘It was minus zero at night, and we were travelling in uncovered KamAZ trucks.’
‘Many of the personnel lacked warm clothing: some had not received any, while others refused to take them.’
‘Within a week, over 30 military members from my unit were hospitalized to the infectious diseases unit.’
He said that everyone who became sick had been on the botched training jumps in seized Crimea.
‘My company was at a training field in Staryi Krym in mid-February. I could tell something was wrong when everyone who had been released or been sick was picked up and transported to the training grounds. We traveled to the shooting range over the following three days, and I eventually got my machine gun.
‘It came out that my machine gun was rusted and had a damaged belt.
‘The [cartridge] jammed on the first night of shooting.’
Even though Putin’s leadership denied going to war, “at some point on February 20, the order came for everyone to pack up and leave.”
‘A forced march to an unknown destination was about to begin.
‘At that time, everyone was filthy and fatigued.’
‘Some had been living on the practice field for about a month…
Everyone’s nerves were frayed, and the mood grew more solemn and perplexing.’
The beginning of the conflict was chaotic, with his own commander unsure of what he was intended to accomplish.
‘On February 23, the division commander came and, after greeting us on the holiday [Defender of the Fatherland Day], stated that the daily salary would be $69 [£57] starting tomorrow.’
It was a strong indication that something terrible was going to occur.
‘[On February 24], around 2 a.m., I awoke [in the back of a KamAZ vehicle].
‘The column was parked somewhere in the middle of nowhere, and everyone had shut off their motors and headlights.’
‘Right and left of our column, rocket artillery was firing.
‘I couldn’t figure it out: are we shooting at advancing Ukrainians?’
‘Or maybe at NATO [forces]? Or are we going to attack? What is the purpose of this terrible shelling?
The column started to move gradually.
‘I heard gunshots and explosions coming from the direction we were heading.’
‘We already had injured and killed [servicemen].
‘There were no messages from the command. The commander had no idea what was going on.’
He described how his soldiers murdered people.
‘I learnt that a BMD cannon was used to fire on a civilian car.’ In the vehicle, there was a woman and many children. Only one of the children survived.’
He exposed an army that was trapped in the past and far from prepared for the conflict Putin was confident would seize control of Ukraine in days.
‘All of our training was on paper, and our methodology was horribly out of date,’ he said.
‘We’re still using the same strategies as our grandfathers.’
‘Those who were the first to break through were destroyed.’
The lads informed me that their brigade is down to [just] 50 members.
‘[When] the sky darkened, the whole crew huddled down.
‘It was really chilly. The cold crept into your bones since no one had sleeping bags.
‘We didn’t even need the enemy; the leadership had placed us in such circumstances – homeless people live better.’
‘The next day, we landed at the Kherson harbor.
‘Everyone began looking for food, water, showers, and a place to sleep in the buildings.’
‘Some started stealing computers and everything expensive they could find. I was no exception: I snatched a hat off a broken-down vehicle.’
He described the offices as having a cafeteria with a kitchen and freezers.
‘We ate everything in there like savages.’
‘We flipped everything upside down throughout the night.’
‘By mid-April, I had dirt in my eyes due to artillery fire, and keratitis had set in,’ Filatiev said.
‘I was evacuated after five days of pain, at which time [one] eye had already closed shut.
‘The paramedic who sent me to be evacuated instructed me to inform the medical detachment that he didn’t have any syringes or painkillers,’ she said.
‘We were escorted to one of the barracks that had been set aside for persons who had been released from the hospital,’ he said.
There were a hundred folks there who had returned from the war and were unraveling as a result of their experiences.
‘I witnessed two persons with memory loss, and many others there drank severely, drinking away the money they had earned.’
‘I had to undergo therapy and purchase drugs with my own money,’ the soldier said.
‘I attempted to receive treatment from the army for two months: I went to the prosecutor’s office, the command, the director of the hospital, and I wrote to the president.’
‘For health concerns, I opted to go through the military-medical board and quit [the service].’
‘The leadership said that I was fleeing duty and sent papers to the prosecutor’s office in order to launch a criminal prosecution.’ They’re utilizing this bluff to send a large number of people back.’
In combat, he felt betrayed by the army’s leadership.
‘I can only drop my firearm and go someplace, or I can go after everyone [Ukrainians],’ he stated.
‘Now I see how I was manipulated.’
Putin’s propaganda media, severe regulations, offers of additional pay for warriors, and usage of honors and decorations, he claims, are enslaving troops to the war machine.
‘I realized that if I saw threat from one of the homes, I would fire without thinking.’
‘Inattention or delay will kill me or my companions; doubts are perilous.’
‘But I didn’t want to murder anybody at the same moment.’
‘Innocent people have been and will be killed in every battle, but it becomes unpleasant in the soul.’
‘While our governments figure out how to live together, and the military on both sides is their instrument, peaceful people are dying, and their normal world is disintegrating.
‘When you realize this, you’re at a loss for what to do.
‘Drop everything and flee; else, you will be a coward and a traitor.’
If you continue to engage in this, you will become complicit in countless people’s deaths and sufferings.’
His Russian novel is called ‘ZOV,’ after the markings painted on Putin’s military trucks.