Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s troops are surrendering at an increasing pace in the ongoing war in Ukraine, according to Ukraine’s Main Directorate of Intelligence.
Ukraine’s defense ministry said in a statement on Friday that the “sharp” increase in the number of Russian troops who want to surrender to “save their lives” is happening due to the expected spring counteroffensive by the Ukrainian army. Its statement added that some Russian soldiers are also being “captured directly” on the battlefield.
Putin launched his “special military operation” on Ukraine last February, aiming for a quick victory against his Eastern European neighbor. However, Ukraine responded with a stronger-than-expected defense effort, bolstered by Western aid, that has blunted Russian military gains. After more than a year of the conflict, combat remains concentrated in the easternmost regions of Ukraine, with analysts saying Russia’s attempted winter offenses have largely failed.
Vitaliy Matvienko, spokesperson for the “I Want to Live” hotline, said that the registered appeals for surrender from Russian soldiers doubled from last month to 3,000 appeals.
“I Want to Live” is a project run by the Coordinating Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War, with support from Ukraine’s defense ministry and the Main Directorate of Intelligence.
The project started last September to encourage Russian military members to protect their lives by giving up fighting for Moscow in a war that has extended to major Ukrainian cities, including Kyiv, Kherson, and Odessa. Most recently, Russia’s war intensified in Bakhmut, located in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, the site of monthslong battles between Ukrainian and Russian forces.
“The Ukrainian counteroffensive operation on the ground has not yet begun, but its effect is already bearing fruit. The choice of a Russian soldier during the war is simple: either death or capture. However, a series of sudden, unexpected, lightning-fast events can change everything,” read the Friday statement by the Ukrainian defense ministry, which warned that the window of opportunity for surrendering is “narrowing.”
Earlier in March, Ukrainian officials reported that a total of 9,836 mobilized individuals from Russia and temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine opted to surrender.
There were around 3,500 appeals in November, which is the same month when the wives and mothers of 21 mobilized Russian soldiers claimed that men were being held captive in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine and threatened with execution for refusing to fight.
Though Ukrainian officials don’t disclose the number of Russians who have already surrendered, they have repeatedly said that “their number is constantly growing, as is the interest in the project among Russians.”
Over 14 million people have visited the “I Want to Live” hotline since it was launched, according to Ukrainian officials. Around 84 percent of the visitors were from Russia.
The project offers those who surrendered three meals per day, medical service, and possible contact with relatives. It also complies with Geneva Conventions of providing assistance and legal support through a variety of international organizations.
Newsweek reached out by email to the Russian defense ministry and Russian army analyst Pavel Felgenhauer for comment.
A nearly 300% increase in surrenders from November to March is quite significant. Sending masses of meat puppets to their deaths certainly doesn’t do any good to increase rock bottom morale. Fighting (dying) for filthy rich oligarchs and a dwarf who steals everything possible from their country while they live in cold, decrepit hovels is also not a fun thing to do. Surrendering to a humane enemy is a much better option.
Liked, not sure how wide spread it is but I’ve heard meat puppets have been having a harder time getting paid since January also
I think the payment problem will get much worse, if the reports about a collapse in mafia land’s economy are true.