Russian POW says he was told to shoot CIVILIANS in Kharkiv

Russian POW says he was told to shoot CIVILIANS and was part of a unit sent to capture Kharkiv in three days before being captured by Ukrainian forces

  • The Russian platoon leader said they had been ordered to occupy city of Kharkiv before advancing and capturing other Ukrainian cities
  • The soldier said they were told to open fire on the civilian population in Kharkiv
  • They were told they must capture the city in three days, but Kharkiv is still under Ukrainian control 

A captured Russian commander has revealed he was told to shoot civilians and was part of a unit sent to capture Kharkiv in three days.

The man, a platoon leader in Russia’s military according to Ukrainian authorities, said Vladimir Putin had ordered the troops to occupy the city of Kharkiv before advancing and capturing other Ukrainian cities.

The soldier, who has not been named, said they were told to ‘open fire’ on the civilian population in Kharkiv, after they landed in Ukraine at the beginning of Russia’s barbaric invasion on 24 February.

‘There was a command to capture the city of Kharkiv, occupy all the roads, block civilian exits and occupy the city,’ the soldier, who was captured by Ukrainian forces after a shootout, said in a video released by Ukraine’s Security Service.

When asked what other tasks the Russian troops were given when they moved in on Ukraine, he said: ‘We had permission to open fire on command and on all city residents,’ adding that there was an order to shoot civilians.

A captured Russian commander has revealed he was told to shoot civilians and was part of a unit sent to capture Kharkiv in three days

The soldier, who said his platoon arrived in Ukraine on February 24, added that it was their mission to capture Kharkiv within three days. 

But two weeks after Russia began its barbaric invasion, Kharkiv is still under Ukrainian control. But the city is still being heavily pummelled by surrounding Russian forces, with local forces reporting artillery fire. 

Shelling in Kharkiv overnight killed four people, two of them children, with a five-year-old girl injured and rushed to hospital. Emergency workers said they are still working to pull people from the rubble of houses in the town of Slobozhanske.

Footage showed a destroyed shopping centre in Kharkiv after the city was targeted by Russian airstrikes. Another clip revealed troops searching the inside of the mall.

Another clip revealed troops searching the inside of the destroyed mall in Kharviv 

The shopping mall ‘Nikolsky’ is seen destroyed in the aftermath of shelling amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Kharkiv, Ukraine

The captured Russian soldier said he had been falsely told he was entering Ukraine as a ‘peacekeeper’ to ‘free Ukraine from Nazis’.

He was later captured after a shootout between his platoon and Ukrainian soldiers. The man was taken into a nearby forest by another Russian soldier, who was also captured by Ukrainian troops. 

The video was released just days after a captured Russian commander begged for ‘mercy’ for Putin’s forces attacking Ukraine, saying they were duped into invading in the false belief that the government had been overthrown by Nazis and needing liberating.

The man, who claimed he is a lieutenant-colonel in the Russian national guard’s special rapid response unit, said his countrymen have been ‘brainwashed’ into supporting the war but – having seen the situation in Ukraine for himself – he now feels ‘shame’ in taking part in ‘genocide’ and says Ukrainians are ‘right’ to resist. 

Astakhov Dmitry Mikhailovich said his doubts solidified when he saw two of his favourite boxers – Oleksandr Usyk and Vasiliy Lomachenko – agreeing to fight for the resistance.

And in a stark message delivered to Russian troops still fighting, he said: ‘I’m begging you, stop before it is too late…Russia cannot win here.

‘If someone came to my territory, I would do the same as these people did and I would be right. They are right now.

Astakhov Dmitry Mikhailovich (pictured) said: ‘I’m begging you, stop before it is too late…Russia cannot win here’

‘Guys, be brave. It’s easier for me, I’m in this situation already. You are in a tense situation, going against your own commander.

‘But this is genocide, the people are just killed.’

It echoes statements given by other Russian prisoners interviewed by Ukrainian forces, who said the order to attack came at short notice, that they were told the Ukrainian government had been deposed, and that they were going in a ‘liberators’ who should expect only light resistance. Instead, they walked into a bloodbath.

None of their accounts can be verified, and all statements are likely to have been given under some degree of duress.

But the consistency with which the same story is being told – by soldiers from different units fighting in different areas of the country who have not had time to align their stories – is striking.

It comes as the battle for Kyiv is underway as Russian tanks push to within just a few miles of the city outskirts, analysts and witnesses have said, though initial assaults to the west and east of the capital were repelled as Putin’s forces face a long and bloody campaign to try and take the capital.

Footage shows the inside of a destroyed shopping mall in Kharkiv, Ukraine, after Russian shelling 

Destroyed buildings and cars are seen in the city of Kharkiv on Wednesday after Russian troops bombed the area

Kremlin troops launched two attacks on Kyiv Wednesday – one via the besieged western city of Irpin and another through the eastern district of Brovary, with video showing how a column of Russian tanks and armoured vehicles was bombarded with artillery in a devastating ambush and forced to turn back. 

Colonel Andrei Zakharov, commander of the tank regiment, was also killed in the ambush according to the Ukrainian defence ministry and radio chatter intercepted from Russians on the battlefield. The same transmissions suggested the column suffered heavy losses, with one tank and an armoured vehicle destroyed. 

It marks just the latest Russian commander to be killed in Ukraine, after two generals were slain by Kyiv’s troops. Colonel Zakharov had been awarded the Order of Courage by Vladimir Putin in 2016.    

Vadym Denysenko, adviser to Ukraine’s interior ministry, said Ukrainian forces had also managed to stop the attack in Irpin and were counter-attacking on Thursday morning with battles underway. 

‘The night was quite difficult, but in general we can say that the Ukrainian army counterattacked near Kyiv,’ he said. ‘There is no further detailed information yet.’ Fighting was also reported to the south west of Kyiv as Putin’s men continued their efforts to surround the city. 

It means the Russian mission to assault the Ukrainian capital is now underway, analysts at the Institute for the Study of War said, amid fears that devastating airstrikes on the city of Mariupol – which struck a maternity hospital killing three including a six-year-old girl – and Kharkiv could soon be seen in the capital.

President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is still in Kyiv, said Thursday that his ‘heart breaks at what the occupants have done with our cities, our country, and at what they want to do to our people’ who he said needed ‘urgent help.’

Zelensky said humanitarian corridors were urgently being organised from bombarded cities to get civilians out and aid packages in, which were meeting with mixed success. Some 35,000 people were able to flee cities under attack by Russian forces on Wednesday, he said, including from the Kyiv suburbs and the eastern city of Sumy.

However, there has been no relief for the people of hard-hit Mariupol, which has been under bombardment for more than a week with no food, water, or electricity. A convoy was trying to reach the city today to bring supplies, but there was no word on whether it had managed to get through by early afternoon. Four previous attempts to bring relief to the city have failed, after Ukraine said Russia shelled the route it was intending to use.  

Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko said today that the city has been turned into a fortress ahead of the Russian assault, with about 2 million people – half the residents of the metro area of the capital – having fled.

‘Every street, every house is being fortified, the territorial defense is joining. Even people who in their lives never intended to change their clothes, now they are in uniform with machine guns in their hands,’ he said in televised remarks.

Troops were also warning civilians not to stray beyond the outskirts of the city, because Russian vehicles had been spotted just a few miles away. If Putin’s men can encircle Kyiv, they are expected to shell it as they have done with other cities such as Mariupol, Kharkiv and Chernihiv. 

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