The first Russian soldier to publicly criticize Russia's invasion of Ukraine is a 33-year-old member of the 56th air assault regiment. His regiment was deployed to capture Mykolaiv. Despite the public reasoning presented by Russia, the paratrooper states that Russia is rife with corruption, with little explanation being provided to troops before moving them to the front lines. [i]
Although the soldier, Pavel Filatyev, stated he would likely end up in prison or be taken out by Russia for speaking out against the war, he said the invasion was "destroying peaceful lives." In his statement, he explained,
Many understood that we do not see the reason that our government is trying to explain to us. That all of it is a lie. We are just destroying peaceful lives. This fact immenesly influenced our morale. That feeling that we are not doing anything good." [ii]
The solder continues sharing his war experience claiming "Russian troops lack basic equipment and commanders were not given any insight into the war before traveling to Ukraine." Furthermore, the soldier recalls the state of their living quarters and armaments, disclosing that,
Our barracks are about 100 years old and are not able to host all of our servicemen...all of our weapons are from the times of Afghanistan. Several days after we encircled Kherson, many of us did not have any food, water, or sleeping sacks on them. Because it was very cold at night, we couldn't even sleep. We would find some rubbish, some rags, just to wrap ourselves to keep warm." [iii]
Filatyev states he suffered an injury leading to evacuation from the front line. Having reflected on his actions, Filatyev states he believes the invasion was the "worst, stupidest thing the Russian government could have done." Filatyev noted that he was unsure where the government was leading the soldiers but that,
I see what is happening to my country and I am terrified. Everything is destroyed, corrupted. [iv]
Watch for more details from the interview with Filatvev in the video below.
The emotions shared by Filatyev are sentiments that appear to be shared by many others throughout Russia. A recent survey has revealed plummeting audience rates for Russia's TV. Many are tuning out as Russia continues to dish out its pro-war propaganda via television broadcast. When Russia first invaded Ukraine, 86% of people watched state-run channels. [v]
Six months into the conflict, Russia's state TV channels are seeing declining popularity. Recent opinion polls indicate that merely 55% of Russians are in favor of Putin's invasion. This figure was at 66% at the start of the war. Additionally, an independent survey "published by independent polling center Rosmir found that only 65% of respondents watch Russian state-run TV stations." [vi]
This decline in Russian support coincides with multiple famous TV personalities leaving Russia due to their opposition to the war. The propaganda machine run by Putin has allegedly been "unraveling further over the last few days in the wake of journalist Daria Dugina's death." Although Rusia claims that Ukrainian Natalya Volk was responsible, an analyst believes that Volk's passport had been photoshopped by the Russians as they explained the editing process step-by-step. [v]
Critics such as the director of Mayak Intelligence, Mark Galeotti, have stated that allowing Volk in and out of Russia "would suggest a pretty major failure from the Russian government." The critic further said, "I think this is a major Kremlin blindspot, to fail to appreciate how its evolving narrative is actually painting it as incompetent." They question how it is that Volk, an alleged 'known terrorist,' would be capable of entering "Russia with that easily discoverable military footprint?" [vi]
All this culminates as Ukraine celebrates its Independence Day remaining on the lookout for potential Russian provocation, as detailed in the video below.
[i] Francesca Edwards, 'It is a lie!' Russian troop condemns Putin's war in Ukraine as Independence Day Looms, (Aug. 24, 2022)
[iii] Matthew Chance, Rob Picheta, Katharina Krebs, 'All of it is a lie': Russian paratrooper condemns his country's war in Ukraine, (Aug. 24, 2022)
[v] Millie Cooke, Putin's embarrassing propaganda disaster causing Russian viewers to switch OFF - down 31%, (Aug. 24, 2022)