Live updates: Russia’s war in Ukraine
Russia’s Human Rights Ombudsman Tatyana Moskalkova on Monday asked the Chief of the Russian General Staff Valery Gerasimov to investigate the information that mobilized men from Tatarstan were allegedly sent to fight in Ukraine “practically without weapons.”
This follows a video published on social networks in which about two dozen men in camouflage uniforms say that upon arrival to Ukraine, they were divided into different units, transferred to the command of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and sent on a mission without any equipment or support.
“We were handed over to the leadership of the DPR. The local leadership does not care about us, we are seen here as expendable material. Their motto is: we fight to the last soldier, and then they will be sent new ones,” said one of the mobilized men in the video shared on social media. “When we arrived here, we were divided into different units, they took away all the equipment and humanitarian aid from us. On February 5, we were sent to attack without any preparation.”
Moskalkova said in a statement on Monday, “I sent an appeal to the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, General of the Army Valery Gerasimov, with a request to investigate the information that appeared on the network that soldiers mobilized from the Republic of Tatarstan were sent to perform combat missions as part of a special military operation with virtually no weapons.”
The Russian Human Rights Council — serving under Russian President Vladimir Putin — also reported that they will look into another case regarding mobilized men from Smolensk, who turned to the council with a complaint about the actions of the military command.
“I received such an appeal, and I managed to give it a go through the HRC channels: an inspection has been scheduled. Therefore, if any of you are faced with similar issues, reach out. At least we will help someone,” said Eva Merkacheva, a member of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights.
According to Merkacheva, the mobilized soldiers from Smolensk were immediately sent to the front lines, where they stayed for three months. Following that, they were briefly sent to the rear and returned back to the front lines. They were not allowed “neither physically nor mentally to rest.”
The Human Rights Council said in a statement that they “will monitor this egregious situation with the mobilized.”
What former Wagner fighters saying: Two former fighters of the Russian private military company Wagner have told CNN of their horrific experiences on the battlefield in eastern Ukraine, and how anyone who faltered was immediately shot by their own commanders.
The two fighters were captured by Ukrainian forces late last year. CNN is not disclosing their identities for their own safety. Both are married with children and were recruited while in prison. One was serving a 20-year sentence for manslaughter.
CNN’s Tim Lister and Frederik Pleitgen contributed reporting to this post.