KEY POINTS

  • The soldier said they will flee alongside their battalion commander and staff colonel
  • The Russian soldier said Chechen forces mocked their lack of weaponry
  • Ukraine says more than 28,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in the war

Russian soldiers are planning to leave the fighting in Ukraine this month as more military personnel express their frustration with President Vladimir Putin’s ongoing war, according to a newly released recording. 

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense’s Main Intelligence Directorate on Thursday released the recording of an intercepted phone call where a Russian soldier was complaining about their lack of equipment. He was also heard saying that he and others in his unit plan to flee the war on May 26.

"Everyone who is here … I’m telling you … everyone is planning to take off on the 26th," the soldier said. "A battalion commander is leaving with us and even a staff colonel."

The unnamed trooper also went on to explain that they were not given any equipment to fight in the war, adding that the only weapon they carried were snipers "from 1945." The soldier added that even other Russian units and the Chechen forces that were fighting alongside them constantly mocked their lack of weaponry. 

"They laugh at us. You know what they call us? Blessed. We ask, 'Why blessed?' They say because we are walking around with no equipment, no helmets, without anything. … The Chechens call us meat," the soldier said. 

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry did not specify when the intercepted phone call took place. However, it identified the soldier as one of the men "mobilized" by Russian authorities in Donetsk. 

The recording is the latest in a series of evidence pointing to low morale among Russian troops. Ukraine’s Security Service released another recording where a Russian soldier told his friend to take a Ukrainian weapon and use it to shoot himself in the leg to get out of the war. 

Earlier this month, the Security Service released a recording where a Russian soldier was heard saying he and his comrades have resorted to destroying their own equipment to avoid fighting in the war. 

It is unclear how many Russian soldiers have already deserted the war. However, at least 28,500 Russian soldiers have been killed since the start of the invasion, according to estimates from Ukraine’s Defense Ministry. 

In Mariupol, more than 1,000 Ukrainian soldiers including senior commanders remain inside the besieged Azovstal steel plant as Russian soldiers patrol the outside of the sprawling complex In Mariupol, more than 1,000 Ukrainian soldiers including senior commanders remain inside the besieged Azovstal steel plant as Russian soldiers patrol the outside of the sprawling complex Photo: AFP / Olga MALTSEVA