One captured Russian commander has begged for forgiveness and given a powerful statement condemning his country’s military aggression after being captured by the Ukrainian military
Lieutenant Colonel Astakhov Dmitry Mikhailovich said he and his comrades were lied to and understood if his homeland was hated for the brutal invasion.
Speaking during a conference alongside two other captured Russians, he said:
“I cannot find the words to say sorry to the Ukrainian people.”
“I just sincerely hope for your mercy towards those people who come to you with their hands up, or those who are wounded. We should not sow death. It’s better to sow life.”
Mikhailovich was captured after entering Ukraine. He identified his unit as a special rapid response element of Russia’s National Guard, the Daily Mail reported.
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“I don’t know why we were doing it. We knew very little.”
He added that he was prepared to go to jail for his part in the war on their peaceful neighbors.
Mikhailovich is believed to be the most senior Russian soldier to speak out against the invasion so far.
He insisted he was speaking freely, and that he hadn’t been pressured or intimidated into his statement by his Ukrainian captors.
Mikhailovich admitted he began to doubt Russian propaganda after two famous Ukrainian boxers he’d long admired took up arms in defense of the country. “We brought sorrow to this land … We will go to jail or whatever we deserve. We’re ready for everything,” said Mikhailovich of his fellow prisoners.
“I’ll give it to you straight. If someone came to my territory, I would do the same as these people did,” Mikhailovich added of Ukraine’s defenders.
“Guys, be brave,” he said. “It’s easier for me, I’m in this situation already.
“You are in a tense situation, going against your own commander. But this is genocide.”
He also added “Russia cannot win here anyway. Even if we go until the very end. We can invade the territory, but we cannot invade the people.”
The commander said that “a Russian would be ashamed to confess that he is Russian” following the invasion.
Describing the start of the invasion on February 22, he said he and his comrades were told Ukraine was “dominated by a fascist regime”, that “nationalists and Nazis had seized power,” and that they were there to help the people of Ukraine get rid of them.
“Obviously, this information was unilateral information,” he said.
“Of course, we have internet, sometimes we get something from other sources. We had some doubts. We did not know the situation for sure.”