In Ukraine, a few months ago, a new battalion was formed within the army, with a peculiarity: it is made up only of Russian citizens, in opposition to the Moscow regime. Once they arrive in Ukraine, these Russians are subjected to scrutiny by Ukrainian intelligence and then sent to train. Are the Siberian Battalion.
Not far from kyiv, at a military base where new recruits are trained, about 20 men, all from Russia, are part of the Siberian Battalion, the only formation in which Russians They are officially integrated into the Ukrainian army.
“First of all, yes, the entire Ukrainian territory must be liberated! Secondly, the Russian regime must cease to exist”: these words are those of Perun (code name meaning “lightning” in Ukrainian), he is originally from Moscow.
He 32-year-old civil engineer left Russia as soon as the full-scale invasion began in February 2022. Through third countries, he managed to reach Ukraine, where, after several months of a selection process by the intelligence services, He was deemed fit for service.
Ukrainian soldiers at the front. Photo: Reuters
His motivations are political, but also personal. “I was already in Ukraine in 2013 and I have loved this country with all my heart since then,” she says. “At that time, the Donetsk region was not yet occupied, and I started a relationship with a Ukrainian woman, we have been together for seven yearsso you can say that I have a very warm relationship with this country!”, he emphasizes.
“I can't help but trust them”
Although the presence of Russian soldiers in the army is received with caution by the populationBatya, their Ukrainian commander, explains that He has complete confidence in his men: “I spend a lot of time with them in training, and I can't help but trust them,” he explains.
“We go into battle together, I would not be able to fight with them if that were not the case (…) Our lives are on the front line, we are brothers in arms and, as such, we trust each other 100%.”
Ukrainians trust the Siberian Battalion. “We are brothers in arms.” Photo: AP
The youngest of the soldiers, Maliy, 22 years old, It comes from Bashkortostan, between the Ural and the Volga. He also says that he fully sympathizes with the Ukrainians.
“Any war is terrible, and especially when two close people start fighting, it is a massacre. Imagine that a friend, out of nowhere, comes and loots your country, for several years, sends troops there and not only starts occupying the country, but also kills civilians, loots, rapes, all to create chaos. This is what I think of this war: it must stop as soon as possible, of course! ”He exclaims.
Maliy testifies in the hope that his example Inspire other Russians to fight alongside Ukrainians. Until now, about 100 men have joined the Siberian Battalionbut according to kyiv, many more candidates from Russia are waiting to be qualified.