The American newspaper The New York Times published on its website recordings of phone calls from Russian soldiers intercepted by Ukraine in the Kyiv region in the first weeks of the war, in March, which show despair in the face of lack of supplies. and battlefield casualties and in which they admit war crimes.
The US publication confirmed the authenticity of these calls by cross-referencing intercepted Russian phone numbers with messaging apps and media profiles to identify soldiers and the people to whom these calls were made (family members, girlfriends, and friends). For security reasons, the New York Times published only the soldiers’ first names.
At the beginning of the war, the Kremlin made a major offensive in the Kyiv region, but after unsuccessful attempts to taking the capital, decided to concentrate its war effort in eastern and southern Ukraine.
“ Putin is an idiot. He wants to take Kyiv. But we have no way of doing that”, says a soldier in one of the recordings. “Our offensive has stopped. We are losing this war”, says another.
The low morale due to the deaths in the war is evident in other passages. A relative asks a soldier named Yegor if there were any casualties in his regiment, and he reports that “one third” of the men had died.
Another points out that from a group of 400 paratroopers, only 38 survived. “Because our commanders are sending soldiers to be massacred”, he says.
After Russian troops left the city of Bucha, in the Kyiv region, at the end of March, dozens of bodies of civilians were found. Russia has accused Ukraine of putting on a “stage show”. However, the audios now released show soldiers admitting war crimes.
One of them tells his girlfriend that he and other soldiers detained civilians near a Russian troops warehouse, stripped them and searched their clothes . “So we had to decide if we should let them go. If we did that, they could inform our position… so we decided to shoot them in the forest”, he describes.
The girlfriend asks why they didn’t keep the civilians as prisoners, and the soldier replies: “We would have to feed them, and we don’t even have enough food for ourselves.”