Nikita Chibrin says he nonetheless remembers his fellow Russian troopers working away after allegedly raping two Ukrainian ladies throughout their deployment northwest of Kyiv in March.
“I noticed them run, then I discovered they have been rapists. They raped a mom and a daughter,” he mentioned. Their commanders, Chibrin mentioned, shrugged when discovering out in regards to the rapes. The alleged rapists have been crushed, he says, however by no means totally punished for his or her crimes.
“They have been by no means jailed. Simply fired. Identical to that: ‘Go!’ They have been merely dismissed from the warfare. That’s it.”
Chibrin is a former soldier from the Russian metropolis of Yakutsk who says he served within the sixty fourth Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade, the infamous Russian navy unit accused of committing war crimes throughout their offensive in Bucha, Borodianka and different cities and villages north of Kyiv.
He abandoned from the Russian navy in September and fled to Europe through Belarus and Kazakhstan.
Troops from Chibrin’s brigade have been labeled warfare criminals by the Ukrainian Ministry of Protection in April after mass graves containing murdered civilians and useless our bodies mendacity within the streets have been found following the withdrawal of Russian forces from the Kyiv area.
Chibrin’s navy paperwork, seen by CNN, present his commander was Azatbek Omurbekov, the officer accountable for the sixty fourth Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade. Omurbekov, referred to as the “Butcher of Bucha” is beneath sanctions by the European Union and the UK. The USA have sanctioned the whole brigade.
The Kremlin has denied any involvement within the mass killings, whereas reiterating baseless claims that the photographs of civilian our bodies have been faux.
In a transfer that sparked outrage internationally, Russian President Vladimir Putin awarded the unit an honorary military title and praised it for its “heroism” and “daring actions.”
Chibrin mentioned he didn’t see any of the supposed heroism, however lots of the crimes.
Chatting with CNN in a European nation the place he has requested asylum, he detailed a few of the crimes he says he witnessed and heard accounts of, and mentioned he’d be ready to testify towards his unit at a global prison court docket. He maintains he himself didn’t commit any crimes.
“I didn’t see murders however I noticed rapists working away, being chased (by higher-ranking members of the unit) as a result of they dedicated rape,” he mentioned.
He additionally mentioned that the unit had a “direct command to homicide” anybody sharing details about the unit’s positions, whether or not navy or civilians.
“If somebody had a telephone – we have been allowed to shoot them,” he mentioned. He claims there may be little doubt a few of the males within the sixty fourth Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade have been able to killing unarmed civilians.
“There are maniacs who get pleasure from killing a person. Such maniacs turned up there,” he mentioned.
Chibrin additionally described widespread looting, with Russian troopers taking computer systems, jewellery and something they preferred.
“They didn’t conceal this in any respect. Loads from my unit, once we left Lipovka and Andreevka ultimately of March, they took automobiles, automobiles, they took civilian automobiles and offered them in Belarus,” he mentioned. “The mentality is, if you happen to steal one thing, you might be good. If no person catches you, good! In the event you see one thing that’s costly and also you steal it and don’t get caught, you might be good.”
As for the unit’s commanders, he mentioned they have been nicely conscious of the alleged rapes and murders and of the looting, however took little curiosity in looking for justice.
“They reacted like: ‘No matter. It occurred. So what?’ Truly, there was no response,” he mentioned. “Self-discipline goes [down the drain], there’s no self-discipline.”
CNN has requested the Russian Ministry of Protection for touch upon the allegations, however has not obtained a response.
Chibrin has little doubt that Russia will finally lose its warfare towards Ukraine, however not till many extra lives are misplaced.
“As a result of Russia received’t cease till huge blood is spilled, till everybody dies. Troopers are cannon fodder to them. They don’t respect them,” he mentioned.
Having seen the combating first hand, he mentioned the gear Russian troopers have is not any match for the weapons to which Ukraine has entry. He says that whereas Ukraine is receiving a few of the most superior weaponry obtainable from its Western allies, the Russian military is counting on Soviet-era gear used throughout the warfare in Afghanistan within the Nineteen Eighties.
“In fact Russia will lose. As a result of the entire world is supporting Ukraine. To suppose that they (the Russians) will win is silly,” he mentioned. “They thought they’d occupy Kyiv in three days. What day is it now [of the war]? 260th? They thought they’d come to Ukraine and be met with flowers. However they have been advised to f*** off and thrown Molotov cocktails at.”
Males in his unit have been additionally extraordinarily ill-prepared for fight, in keeping with Chibrin. He mentioned the coaching his unit obtained consisted of commanders giving them a weapon, a goal and 5,000 bullets.
“Maintain capturing after which you might be free to go. Nobody was doing something. There was no precise coaching. I labored with a pc, on the workplace, labored as a lawnmower…” he mentioned.
The shortage of coaching turned apparent as soon as in Ukraine. The identical males who have been boasting about being “like Rambo” earlier than they have been deployed got here again damaged, he mentioned. “Those that mentioned they’d be capturing Ukrainians simply, after they come again from the entrance traces … they may not even communicate to me. They noticed the warfare, they noticed defeat, noticed their [fellow] combatants being murdered, noticed corpses. They realized – however they couldn’t run away.”
He mentioned lots of the males have been poorly skilled and most had no concept the place they have been headed.
“It was an enormous lie. It was a military training with the Belarusian military. They usually lied to us. On February 24 they simply mentioned everybody will go to warfare,” Chibrin mentioned, including that he initially refused to go.
“The very first thing I mentioned was, ‘Commander, f*** you, I don’t need to go to the warfare’ and he mentioned, ‘Hey you, you should have huge issues, you’ll go to jail and your loved ones could have huge issues’ … and he attacked me and put me in a particular car and closed the door. And I couldn’t open [it] from inside. So, that’s how I went to Ukraine.”
Chibrin went on to spend months in Ukraine, on and off. When the sixty fourth Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade withdrew at the end of March from the realm northwest of Kyiv, following the failed offensive there, he and his unit returned to Belarus.
He mentioned he was affected by a again harm and went to a navy hospital in Russia, however was pressured to return to Ukraine in Could. This time he was despatched to the Kharkiv area in japanese Ukraine, after which frolicked within the forests round Izyum.
It was then that he lastly discovered an opportunity to flee, he mentioned. He observed that commanders of different items have been leaving the realm for Russia in a truck and jumped in.
“I leap in [the bed of the truck] and I see, wow, different guys, additionally leaving Ukraine. They usually say we don’t need to [fight the] warfare, we paid the commander cash (to drive). And I’m ready and ready after which we’re close to to the Russia border and the automotive is stopped and the blokes are leaping off and I’m additionally leaping off. And I’m going to the Russia border and I say I want the medical assist,” he mentioned.
As soon as again in Russia, Chibrin mentioned he spent almost a month in hospital, most of that being bedridden with horrible again ache. However he mentioned he was unable to get correct therapy. “They mentioned that if I wished to go to a particular sanatorium, I wanted to signal a paper that mentioned I’d return to warfare,” he mentioned.
Refusing to signal, Chibrin mentioned he was on the point of submit paperwork to get his navy contract canceled when the Russian authorities introduced a partial mobilization in September.
“And my buddies advised me I wanted to cover. ‘You must discover place and conceal, your contract won’t be canceled due to the mobilization,” he mentioned. Figuring out he wanted to get so far as potential from the far east metropolis of Khabarovsk the place he was stationed, Chibrin first fled throughout Russia to St. Petersburg after which took a practice to Belarus. As soon as there he was capable of finding an middleman who helped him get to Kazakhstan from the place he in the end traveled to his present location.
Now he’s decided to talk up in regards to the occasions he witnessed in Ukraine, even writing an anti-war track. “A whole lot of souls, a whole bunch of our bodies of misplaced folks. A whole lot of moms with out youngsters,” the refrain goes.