• The YouTuber claimed none of the soldiers from Donbas knew how to use weapons
  • The interviews revealed to him that most conscripts were "18-19-20" and clueless
  • Zolkin said the Russian soldiers he interviewed were obsessed with "the Maidan" 

A Ukrainian vlogger, who has embarked on a project to interview Russian prisoners of war, has revealed how 90 percent of them were from Russian hinterlands, including occupied Donbas. Volodymyr Zolkin has recorded more than 100 interviews with captured invading troops for his project "Ishchi Svoikh" (Look for Your Own).

Zolkin, who has over 247k subscribers on his YouTube channel, said the men from occupied Donbas were treated as the "lowest caste" in the Russian army. "Let's try to classify them somehow. Firstly, it’s the inhabitants of occupied Donbas. This is the lowest caste and link in the whole ogre structure because they are basically cannon fodder everywhere, sometimes even unarmed," Zolkin told The New Voices Of Ukraine, a Kyiv-based news outlet.

Zolkin said none of them knew how to use weapons and were recruited from the "streets, from basements, taken out of homes and thrown into combat."

"I think it goes like this: the puppet [DPR leader Denis] Pushylin is told by the Kremlin: we need a thousand pieces of cannon fodder. He goes down and recruits them anywhere and by any means possible. Then everyone is taken to some sort of a hangar, where they are given something resembling a military uniform. It is unwearable," said the vlogger, adding that Ukrainian soldiers were better equipped and trained.

He alleged that the prisoners revealed that even the physically disabled were recruited. Though they were given rifles, the magazines were given only on arrival at the battle scene.

Zolkin said his interviews proved that most conscripts were clueless, and some of them were "18-19-20." The majority of them were from Russian hinterlands, but he could also interview those from cities like Ekaterinburg and Rostov. "They call their mothers and they both tell them that the captain who led them into battle and threw them on the battlefield has returned to Russia and written a report that they are deserters — those whom we held captive. They are shocked, and afraid to return home because they will be beaten up there," Zolkin told the news outlet.

He said the Russian soldiers he met were obsessed with "the Maidan" (a wave of large-scale protests known as Euromaidan that began in response to President Yanukovych's sudden decision not to sign a political association and free trade agreement with the European Union).

"They were told for eight years that the Maidan was the worst thing that could happen. And I say: "How can I explain to you what the Maidan is, if you don't understand at all what the will of the people is?" said Zolkin, adding that most Russians never considered Ukraine an independent state.

Zolkin also claimed to have interviewed Russian pilot Alexander Krasnoyartsev, who reportedly killed a civilian after trying to eject from a downed plane. "I ask him: "Do you comprehend that you are not merely a mechanism that is given orders? You are a human and you are responsible for your actions," Zolin told the news outlet.

Russian soldiers patrol a street in Mariupol on April 12, 2022, as Moscow intensifies a campaign to take the strategic Ukrainian port city
Russian soldiers patrol a street in Mariupol on April 12, 2022, as Moscow intensifies a campaign to take the strategic Ukrainian port city AFP / Alexander NEMENOV