KEY POINTS

  • Captured Russian soldiers said their country's "treacherous invasion" of Ukraine was "a real disaster" 
  • They were allegedly told that they would be fighting fascism in Ukraine but instead faced a "peaceful nation"
  • The captured men asked for forgiveness from the Ukrainian people and called on their fellow soldiers to lay down their arms

Captured Russian soldiers have asked for forgiveness from the Ukrainian people after they witnessed firsthand what they called their country's "treacherous invasion" of Ukraine.

Servicemen of the Russian Army's 15th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade, which is usually stationed at Russia's Samara province, apologized at a Wednesday press conference hosted by news agency Interfax-Ukraine.

"I apologize for myself [and] for my squad to every home, to every street, to every citizen of Ukraine, to the elderly, to women, to children for our invasion of these lands. I gravely apologize for our treacherous invasion," one of the soldiers, who was identified by Interfax-Ukraine as Sergey Galkin, was quoted as saying by The Sun.

Galkin's brigade had been informed of Russian President Vladimir Putin's plan to attack Ukraine on Feb. 23, a day before the invasion, the soldier told journalists.

"[We were] supposedly protecting the population from fascism and tyranny, which are allegedly present in Ukraine," 34-year-old Galkin said in a video uploaded by the Ukrainian state-owned National News Agency of Ukraine (UATV).

However, the soldiers later realized that the invasion was a "real disaster" upon entering Ukraine, according to Galkin.

"They dropped bombs on hospitals, schools, kindergartens... they dropped their bombs everywhere," the captured Russian soldier said.

Another serviceman, Maksim Chernyak, said that rather than fighting fascists and oppression, Russian soldiers were instead "fighting against a peaceful nation."

"It is a terrible feeling to understand what a mistake we have made. I simply don't want to exist after all of this," Chernyak said in the UATV video.

Chernyak then pleaded with his fellow Russian soldiers to lay down their arms. Additionally, he called on Putin "to stop further combat actions."

Galkin and Chernyak were among the seven reconnaissance officers who appeared in front of journalists at Wednesday's Interfax-Ukraine press conference. It is understood that they were all shot down from Ukrainian airspace last week.

Peace talks between Ukraine and Russia were starting to sound "more realistic," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said early Wednesday, Al Jazeera reported.

However, he said more time is needed "for the decisions to be in the interests of Ukraine."

Both sides are expected to speak again Wednesday.

Ukrainian servicemen inspect the area in front of a residential apartment building after it was hit by shelling in Kyiv Ukrainian servicemen inspect the area in front of a residential apartment building after it was hit by shelling as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 15, 2022. Photo: Reuters / MARKO DJURICA