Ukraine has paraded captured Russian soldiers in dozens of online videos as Moscow finally admitted its forces have sustained heavy losses after pictures showing bodies of Kremlin fighters emerged.
Footage posted online show tied up ‘demoralised and exhausted’ Russian prisoners of war captured after they failed to break through Ukrainian defences in Kyiv and Kharkiv over the weekend.
Several of the videos were posted on a Telegram channel set up on Saturday by Ukraine’s Interior Ministry called ‘Find Your Own’.
Many Russian troops claimed that they believed they were conducting training exercises in the border regions and did not know they were being sent to invade Ukraine.
Meanwhile Russia’s defence ministry has for the first time acknowledged suffering losses in the conflict after several bodies of the Kremlin’s servicemen emerged.
Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov gave no figures on Russia’s dead and wounded but said Sunday his country’s losses were ‘many times’ lower than Ukraine’s.
Meanwhile Ukraine’s defence ministry put the total number of Russian casualties at 5,300, though that number could not be independently verified and the number of casualties from Europe’s largest land conflict since World War II remained unclear amid the confusion.
Ukraine has paraded captured Russian soldiers in dozens of online videos. Footage appeared on Facebook that showed a captured Russian soldier saying he did not come to the country ‘wanting to kill’
Servicemen from the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic were captured by the Ukrainian military on Thursday, hours after Russia launched an invasion of the country
The body of a serviceman is coated in snow next to a destroyed Russian military multiple rocket launcher vehicle on the outskirts of Kharkiv
The body of a soldier, without insignia, who the Ukrainian military claim is a Russian army serviceman killed in fighting in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine
One of the videos, which was published on Telegram early on Sunday, shows a captured Russian soldier who identifies himself as Leonid Paktishev, 28, the commander of a sniper unit based in the Rostov region.
Paktishev’s family, speaking to the Guardian, said they were not aware he had been sent to the frontline with Ukraine – adding they believed their relative did not know prior to his deployment either.
‘I knew Leonid was in the military, but I had no idea that he was sent to Ukraine. I don’t think he would have been aware of it either,’ his sister Polivtseva, who went by her maiden name, said.
The family expressed shock and anger that Paktishev had been sent over the border, but stopped short of condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with Polivtseva saying she was not ‘competent’ to judge whether the military action was right.
Other footage purported to show Russian soldiers calling their families to tell them they had been captured but were safe and being ‘treated fairly’ by Ukrainian forces.
In one video the soldier, wearing military fatigues and a black hat, can be heard telling his mother that commanders had told troops they were ‘going as peacekeepers to the territory of the (self-proclaimed) Donetsk People’s Republic.’
‘In fact, a war has broken out and we are here bombing cities,’ he says, before telling his mother not to panic.
Another video posted on the Ukrainian Security Service’s Facebook page shows a 21-year-old soldier from the snipers telling his captors he was part of military exercises along the border before the invasion.
‘About two weeks later we were told to line up on the border, and then suddenly we crossed it in the night. There was no choice. If we had refused to go to war we would have been accused of treason.’
Footage appeared on Facebook posted by the Ukrainian military that showed a captured Russian soldier saying he did not come to the country ‘wanting to kill’.
Ukrainian forces detain servicemen of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic who were captured during the Thursday morning attack on the town of Schast’ye
The commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armed forces later said his soldiers had captured the entire 74th brigade of motorcycle rifles. The announcement was posted with a picture of a man with a bandaged arm and bloody uniform which appeared to say ‘Russian Army’
Several Russian troops videoed by their captors have claimed they believed they were conducting training exercises in the border regions and did not know they were being sent to invade Ukraine
Videos posted by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence early on Friday purported to show at least nine captured Russian soldiers
Late last week, Ukrainian officials claimed to have captured dozens of Russian troops, among them the 74th brigade of motorcycle rifles who allegedly surrendered to Ukrainian forces during fighting on Thursday.
Konstantin Buynichev, the commander of the brigade, believed to be a reconnaissance platoon made up of 20 to 50 soldiers, claimed he only learned of the invasion on Wednesday and believed they were returning home.
He said: ‘Nobody thought that we were going to kill. We were not going to fight – we were collecting information.’
The announcement of Buynichev and his troops’ capture was posted by the Ukrainian MoD with a picture of a the commander with a bandaged arm and wearing a bloodied uniform which appeared to say ‘Russian Army’.
On Thursday, Ukrainian forces said they had captured two Russian soldiers, identified as Rafik Rakhmankulov, 19 and Mgomd Mgomdov, 26, from Kizilyurt, along with a cache of weapons and knives during fighting outside Kharkiv, in the east of Ukraine.
A further four Russian soldiers, the crew of a BMP fighting vehicle, were captured by Ukrainian forces near Luhansk on Thursday morning.
They were pictured lying face-down with their jackets pulled over their heads after being captured by Kyiv’s troops.
Ukrainian service members were also pictured on Thursday detaining troops from the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic after they were captured during an attack on the town of Schast’ye in the morning.
Other video posted by the Ukrainian MoD early on Friday appeared to show at least nine more captured Russian soldiers, and similar footage was posted online throughout the weekend.
Two Russian troops – believed to be Rafik Rakhmankulov, 19 (left) and Mgomd Mgomdov, 26, from Kizilyurt (right) – have been captured by Ukrainian forces in the country’s east
Weapons and knives seized from two Russian soldiers captured by Ukrainian units fighting around Kharkiv
The crew of a Russian BMP fighting vehicle are seen face-down with jackets pulled over their heads (left) after being captured by Ukrainian forces (their vehicle is pictured, right)
Ukrainian forces detain troops from the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic on Thursday morning
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