A few weeks ago, the Guardian’s Moscow correspondent Andrew Roth got a call from a man asking to meet him urgently. He tells Michael Safi how he hung up the call, jumped in a cab and hurried to the meeting place. There, he found an ex-paratrooper in the Russian army, Pavel Filatyev, who said he was ready to tell his story about his part in Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

    Filatyev went on to detail his experiences on his VKontakte social media page and published a 141-page bombshell: a day-by-day description of his paratrooper unit’s activities from the moment it was sent to mainland Ukraine from Crimea. Filatyev described how his unit entered Kherson and captured the seaport, how it dug in under heavy artillery fire for more than a month near Mykolaiv – and how he himself was wounded and evacuated from the conflict with an eye infection.

    The paratrooper describes his unit’s lack of equipment and the unhappiness of his fellow soldiers – but denies he witnessed any abuse of civilians. His account is extremely rare: by speaking out he risks prison. He has since left Russia and is claiming asylum in the European Union, but his future is uncertain. “For myself,” he said, “this is a personal tragedy. Because what have we become? And how can it get any worse?”

    The Russian soldier exposing what life is really like in Putin’s invading army – podcast | News

    Photograph: Lewis Joly/AP

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