A Russian prisoner who was recruited to fight in the war has surrendered to the Armed Forces of Ukraine after he was used as “cannon fodder” at the frontline, according to Ukrainian officials.
The prisoner, whose name was not revealed, was one of the convicts recruited by Russia’s infamous Wagner mercenary group to fight in the war in Ukraine. He was deployed to the frontline on Sept. 21 and surrendered to the Ukrainian forces the next day.
During an interrogation with the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU), the prisoner said Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner group, promised them that being deployed to the war will “wash away their sin” and help them receive “clean” papers. Prigozhin also allegedly promised that recruited convicts will fight side by side with “experienced” soldiers and that they will not be sent to the frontlines. However, he said they were thrown to the frontline despite Prigozhin’s promise.
“We are being used as cannon fodder. Our commander sent us forward, at first we walked together, and then he looked back – they were very far away,” the prisoner said during the interrogation. “Usual cannon fodder: to know where there are positions, who stands where… We are like cannon fodder… When we were recruited, they told us a completely different story.”
The prisoner said he later decided to surrender to the Ukrainian army after he realized that Prigozhin’s promise was not true.
The prisoner is not the first Russian conscript to have surrendered to the Ukrainian forces. Two weeks following President Vladimir Putin‘s announcement of partial mobilization order, more than 2,000 Russian citizens also called Ukraine’s “I Want To Live” hotline to appeal to surrender.
“We receive calls not just from soldiers who are already fighting in Ukraine, but also from those who have either just been mobilized and are still on the territory of Russia, or from their relatives… In the space of few weeks, we have received more than 2,000 such requests,” Yuri Yusov, a Ukrainian intelligence spokesperson, was quoted as saying by The Kyiv Post.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in February. Since then, Moscow has lost a total of 65,850 military personnel in combat, according to estimates from the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.