KEY POINTS

  • Ukraine has published videos of captured Russian soldiers on Telegram channel 'Find Your Own'
  • The country has also set up a website to help people identify captured or killed Russian solders
  • Approximately 3,500 Russian soldiers had been killed or injured as of Saturday

The families of several Russian soldiers currently under the custody of Ukraine have taken to the internet to say they were not aware that their sons were involved in the invasion. 

Since the Russian invasion began on Feb. 23, Ukrainian officials have published videos on the Telegram channel “Find Your Own” showing soldiers they captured amid the brutal fighting. In one of the footage posted, a Russian soldier identified himself as Leonid Paktishev, commander of a sniper unit in the Rostov region.

Yelena Polivtseva, Leonid’s sister, said she and her family were shocked and angry after seeing their loved one captured. She also added that while they were aware Leonid served in the military, they never knew he was sent to Ukraine. 

“I was sent the video of my brother captured at 2 a.m. last night. I was completely shocked. I had no idea that he was fighting in there,” she told The Guardian. “I knew Leonid was in the military, but I had no idea that he was sent to Ukraine. I don’t think he would have been aware of it either.”

When asked about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Yelena said she was not “competent” to decide whether Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision was right. However, she said she hoped the fighting would end, adding that there were peaceful means of coming to an agreement. 

The Ukrainian ministry of defense has set up the “Come Back Alive from Ukraine” hotline where family members of captured Russian soldiers can call. The ministry has also launched a website to help Russian families track down soldiers who have been killed or captured in Ukraine. The website contains photos of documents and corpses of the soldiers.

The “Find Your Own” Telegram channel also posted a number of graphic photographs of Russian troops who were said to have been killed in action. The photos appear to shine a light on the death toll in the Russian army. 

As of Saturday, approximately 3,500 Russian soldiers had been killed or injured during Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, according to Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. 

Many Arab students were drawn to Ukraine by the low cost of living and few had the means to join the exodus of refugees pouring into neighbouring Poland and Romania since the Russian invasion Many Arab students were drawn to Ukraine by the low cost of living and few had the means to join the exodus of refugees pouring into neighbouring Poland and Romania since the Russian invasion Photo: AFP / JANEK SKARZYNSKI