Russian prisoners and Ukrainian soldiers describe two sides of the conflict

Written by Andrew E. Kramer

With arms nonetheless soiled from the battlefield, a dozen Russian prisoners of conflict sat, stony-faced, in a convention room of a Ukrainian information company Saturday and described being captured after their armored columns have been ambushed.

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Lt. Dmitry Kovalensky, who had fought in a Russian tank unit and spoke on the behist of his Ukrainian captors, stated he not too long ago got here beneath fireplace from an armed drone and shoulder-launched anti-tank missiles on a highway close to Sumy in northeastern Ukraine. “The entire column burned,” he stated.

Across the similar time and some miles away, at a makeshift Ukrainian navy base in an deserted constructing on the western fringe of Kyiv, Ukrainian troopers ready for a similar kind of ambushes that took out Kovalensky’s unit.

Lt. Yevgeny Yarantsev of Ukraine stated his nation’s troopers struggle in a different way than the Russians. The troops beneath his command manage in small, nimble items that may sneak up on and ambush the lumbering columns of Russian tanks.

“They’ve quite a lot of tanks, we now have quite a lot of anti-tank weapons,” stated Yarantsev, who beforehand fought with a volunteer group in opposition to Russia in japanese Ukraine. “Within the open discipline, will probably be even. It is simpler to struggle within the metropolis.”

The 2 younger officers — the identical rank, however every representing a special nation — gave among the few firsthand accounts of the combating which have emerged within the 10-day conflict. The Russian was a prisoner of conflict talking beneath the watchful eye of closely armed Ukrainian safety officers. The Ukrainian spoke as he displayed newly obtained, subtle weapons from the USA.

The accounts of troopers from each side give a small glimpse of how the conflict is being fought round Kyiv within the north. There, relying largely on ambush techniques, Ukrainian forces have slowed the Russian marketing campaign to encircle and seize the capital, at the same time as Russian troops barrel throughout the south.

Kovalensky and the opposite Russian prisoners have been introduced at a information convention supposed to help Ukraine’s declare that it had captured a major variety of Russian troopers. Of their statements, the prisoners blended woodenly phrased condemnations of their very own nation’s management with genuine-sounding particulars of the battle’s early firefights.

In response to the foundations governing the remedy of prisoners of conflict beneath the Geneva Conventions, governments are supposed to guard a prisoner of conflict from being made right into a “public curiosity,” an idea that’s generally interpreted as not presenting them in any public setting. The Russian troopers appeared exhausted however confirmed no outward indicators of getting been mistreated.

The prisoners’ feedback and the very fact of their seize supported descriptions by Western navy analysts and governments of a Russian offensive that has suffered grave setbacks. The Russian military’s superior numbers and tools, nonetheless, might effectively reverse that pattern.

“Close to the tip of the day’s motion on Feb. 27, our column was attacked,” Pvt. Dmitry Gagarin of the Russian military informed reporters. “My commander burned and died. I bumped into the forest and later surrendered to native folks.”

Kovalensky stated he realized Russia would invade Ukraine solely the night earlier than the tank columns started transferring, and that troopers on the rank of sergeant and decrease weren’t informed the place they have been driving till after crossing the border.

All of the prisoners described being captured after their armored columns have been ambushed on roads, accounts that supported Ukraine’s assertions that its navy had made good use of Western-supplied anti-tank weaponry, such because the US-made Javelin missile. However unbiased analysts have additionally described extra mundane issues for the Russian military, together with logistical snarls and an absence of gasoline.

Yarantsev instructions what he described as a cellular group of about 500 troopers who’re skirmishing with the Russians on the western strategy to Kyiv. He stated the group’s prospects have been bolstered three days in the past after they obtained Barrett 50-caliber sniper rifles in a cargo from the USA.

Glossy and black, with barrels so lengthy they appear nearly like spears, the rifles have been being unpacked and inspected. One sniper, who declined to supply his identify, stated he had fired one in fight on the outskirts of Kyiv.

Yarantsev stated the troops have been extra comfy having the ability to garrison in buildings than in fields or forests. “I’ve seen one thing about conflict,” he stated. “Troopers wish to be someplace the place cellphones work and the place there’s web.”

The constructing the place the troopers have been garrisoned, in a leafy residential space of ​​town, was cluttered with ammunition containers. Two hand grenades sat on the ground beside a settee. The troopers had an electrical kettle and supplied espresso. In a hallway, a soldier oiled his Kalashnikov rifle.

The combating has been inching nearer to the capital. Ukraine’s protection minister, Oleksii Reznikov, stated in a press release Saturday that the Russian forces’ major goal is to encircle Kyiv, following the tactic they’ve pursued with smaller cities similar to Mariupol on the Sea of ​​Azov, which is now surrounded with its warmth and electrical energy minimize off.

The combating round Kyiv is generally in Irpin and Bucha, two outlying cities to the northwest, the place situations are grim. A central avenue in Bucha is clogged with the burned husks of Russian armored personnel carriers, destroyed in an ambush.

Stanislav Bobrytsky, a pc programmer reached by cellphone in Irpin, stated he had not left his condo since Tuesday. “All of the home windows are shaking” from blasts, he stated. “It’s totally scary.”

Within the middle of Kyiv, on the information convention with captured Russian troopers, the Ukrainian safety officers current refused to talk. A moderator handed round a microphone, providing reporters a chance to query the prisoners.

Kovalensky stated he was interesting to the Russian folks to stand up and overthrow President Vladimir Putin as a result of the Russian management had deceived the military’s officers in regards to the goals of the conflict and had used the guise of a navy train to arrange for an invasion.

The prisoners stated they didn’t know what would occur to them after the information convention. Whereas they stated they have been handled effectively, days after their seize it was unclear if they’d showered or been supplied clear garments.

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