Russian soldiers allegedly forced into Ukraine conflict

Isolated soldiers confess their desert to the Ukraine conflict

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Dec 9, 2015

Russian soldiers have been allegedly quitting army as they claimed to state that they are forced to join the conflict in Ukraine or because they are sometimes unaware of where they are taken.

Kremlin have said that there are no Russian soldiers in Ukraine and if there are any, they are voluntarily joining the rebels to provide them with help.

According to Reuters, Russia's President Vladimir Putin has even supported and refuted that soldiers are sent there. "I tell you directly and definitely: “There are no Russian troops in Ukraine," he said during a televised interview on April 16.

However, testimonies by soldiers who prefer to stay anonymous, reveal that quitting had a price to be paid, either literal or metaphorical. Even if the soldiers sent to Ukraine are found, they prefer to stay quiet about the issue.

Alexander Enenko, Russian soldier who decided to quit after his requests for resignations had been ignored for long, is now facing a 10 year imprisonment penalty as he disobeyed to the rules and left the army.

“If people want to leave they are asked for money. They openly told us this on the parade ground. We submitted our tenders but we were told: if you want to leave, pay your commanders,” Enenko told Al Jazeera.

As Al Jazeera reports, soldiers have many reasons to run away from the army. Bullying and abuse as well as the recruiters offering money to the soldiers for them to be recruited are the main ones.

“People were intimidated, they are locked up now. Guys came. I dont know who they were and  threatened them with 13 years in jail if they didn't take their words back” added Enenko.

One of five soldiers of those who quit, told Reuters that even though they were sent to Russia they were then sent to Ukraine.

"After we crossed the border, a lieutenant colonel said we could be sent to jail if we didn't fulfil orders. Some soldiers refused to stay there," he said.

Another soldiers who wished for his name not to be mentioned, told Reuters that in summer of 2014 he and the Grad missile unit he was part of were about 2 km (one mile) from the Ukrainian border in the Rostov province. However, what thought to be an exercise proved to be reality.

"We drove there without insignia. We took off all the buttonholes and stripes. We were told that we did not need them in field conditions," he stated.

In September the team had clear orders to fire "about 17 km" away, "maybe less." It was possible the target was in Ukraine, he said. "I was hoping I did not aim at any people. Or at least that I missed the target."

"I did not understand who was fighting and what for, and the point of it," he said.

The Russian Defence Ministry asked about the issue but they made no comment.

Even though soldiers aged 21 and below are sent to Ukraine, most of the times for a fee, they are not supposed to leave the country for military purposes.

TRTWorld and agencies