KEY POINTS

  • The miner got out of prison in 2021 over drug trafficking charges
  • He was deployed by Russians to combat without any prior military training, says the SSU
  • He is now cooperating with Ukrainian investigators

A Ukrainian miner was captured by authorities after it was found that he joined the Russian army to earn money to get his teeth fixed, according to Ukraine intelligence.

The miner, whose identity was not revealed, had reportedly called the Russian military enlistment office and signed up as a volunteer fighter when President Vladimir Putin announced the start of the invasion in February. The miner, who had gotten out of prison last year on drug trafficking charges, joined the Russian army to earn money for dentures.

“I became a volunteer for monetary reasons. So that I could get myself new teeth, at least some. How can you fix your teeth, if there’s no work anywhere, nothing... And for 15 rubles, you can’t get your teeth fixed anywhere... I decided and just served,” the miner said, according to a report published Wednesday by the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU).

The miner was part of a Russian unit deployed in the war in Ukraine without prior training, the report said. Five soldiers in his squad were killed while attempting to gain a foothold in Ukraine. The SSU noted that the miner is currently cooperating with investigators.

Reports of Russians sending soldiers to the frontlines with minimal or no training have become increasingly common as the war approaches its sixth month.

Ivan, a 31-year-old Russian soldier, told The Moscow Times in an interview that he was deployed to Ukraine after receiving just five days of training. He noted that a soldier in his squad was also sent to the battlefield despite not knowing how to operate a machine gun.

“There was a soldier in our company who didn’t know how a machine gun works. So I taught that guy how to disassemble and assemble a machine gun. I wouldn’t want to be next to him in battle. How can you fight like that?” Ivan told the publication.

Reports of Russian military personnel getting minimal training before deployment contrasts a statement on the country’s Defense Ministry website that says soldiers who signed a contract with the Russian army are required to undergo an intensive four-week combined arms training with a “survival” course. The course takes about 240 hours to complete and includes shooting and studying military tactics.

A Russian soldier
Representation. A Russian soldier stands guard at the Luhansk power plant in the town of Shchastya. ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images
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