Ukraine War: Russian Comms Update

Ukrainian State Security continues to intercept and publish audio of intercepted communications between Russian servicemen in Ukraine and family members in Russia. The nature of the topics discussed in these calls varies from talk about the commission of potential war crimes to insubordination and mutiny. Intercepts posted portray the occupying Russians in a negative light; however, this is to be expected given the source and the nature of the fighting.

May 12, 2022 – Kherson: Manpower Purgatory, Equipment Graveyard

In a conversation with his parents, a Russian contract soldier stationed at Chornobaivka, a small town on the outskirts of the Ukrainian city of Kherson tells how their outpost is under constant artillery and rocket fire. It is so bad that Russian personnel are afraid to be sent there and refer to the area as “purgatory.” He refers to the war in Ukraine as a “special operation” but his mother scolds him: “Yes, you have a special operation, and how many children and adults died? How many soldiers? You bombed everything there!” Later in the conversation with his father the soldier shared details about his unit’s status. “We simply have nothing left to fight with… We have nothing, no heavy weapons at all. It was all blown up.” He complains, “We came here to Kherson, to the base, here in general… it’s a cemetery for helicopters and everything was covered, F****** Grads.”

Ukrainian Army BM-21 “Grad” Multiple Rocket Launching System, Ukraine Ministry of Defense

May 11, 2022 – Russian Soldiers Court Marshaled

A conversation between a Russian soldier and his father, the transcript of which is posted below, reveals further discipline problems within Russian Ranks. The soldier tells his father about “show trials” arranged by an officer named Muradov. According to the Ukrainians he is Lieutenant General Rustam Muradov, commander of the Russian Southern Military District. He is known for his brutality after commanding a joint group of Russian forces in Syria.

Muradov receiving the Hero of Russian Federation award from Russian President Vladimir Putin, 2017,

Soldier – Well, Muradov has arrived. He arranged a show trial because no one wanted to go further. Well, the company commanders did not want to take their boys to their deaths. The guys themselves were not ready and that’s it. Yesterday he broke up the company there on the spot- indicatively there is a section, they emptied their pockets and tied their hands, damn it… teams laid them out, ****. Tied their hands, and that’s it. And this one, ****, they loaded them into a truck and took them all away.

Dad – And he [Muradov] is not an FSB officer, is he?

Soldier – Yes, of course. Nothing will happen to anyone, dad, calm down there, everything has already happened, everything is already known.

Dad – What do you know?

Soldier – They already pressed those who initially refused – they left. The guys are on “vacation” for 60 days, **** it.

Dad – Where?

Soldier – On “vacation.”

Dad – And you all are just sitting there, like, waiting, right?

Soldier – Yes.

May 9, 2022 – Russian Soldiers Kill Mother in Front of Children

In this thirty second excerpt of a phone call between a Russian artillery officer and a woman that we can suppose is his wife she asks him how the locals (Ukrainians) treat them. In response the man says that the “locals” are becoming “embittered” because all agriculture and industry has come to a halt. He then tells her about Russian soldiers shooting in cold blood a Ukrainian woman who was walking with two children. To which his wife replies “Of course, she also is considered an enemy.” Likely there was more to this phone call than the snippet that the Ukrainians posted. One can only speculate, the man’s tone is not one of boasting about the killing of the woman with children. There is an English transcription in the video.

May 3, 2022 – Russian Troops Destroy Own Equipment to Avoid Combat

A Russian infantry soldier tells his incredulous father that his regiment only has one operational main battle tank left. The soldiers in his unit are down from ten tanks to two, along with an unspecified number of armored personnel carriers (APC). The unit commander split the unit into two smaller battle groups with one tank each an unspecified number of APCs. The soldier’s group disabled their tank and because of this his unit left them behind when it advanced. Since the advance, the unit has had three killed in action and “many wounded” in “serious condition.” They also have no armor support. The father (angry) tells his son to “disassemble” remaining armored vehicles and “sell them for scrap.” The video contains an English transcription.

April 30, 2022 – Russian Troops Refuse to Follow Orders to Advance

Ukraine State Security intercepted this audio near the city of Izium in late April 2022. Izium, an important rail junction located approximately fifty miles (63 km) southeast of Kharkiv, was the scene of heavy fighting during the month of April as the Russians took the city and attempted to continue advancing west and south. Ukrainian troops have reportedly recaptured some villages near Izium, however it remains the most heavily defended area in the Kharkiv area with an estimated twenty-two Russian Battalion Tactical Groups in the area. There is an English transcription in the video.

In this call, a Russian soldier tells his mother that his unit has been without adequate food supply. They have “emptied all the cellars” in the village of Topolske and are cooking what they find themselves. In response to his mother’s question whether there are “battles going on.” The soldier explains that fighting is nonstop in the area and that they are unable to break through Ukrainian defenses. “This will not end by May 9th” he tells his mother who advises him not to sign a service contract. His says his unit was already offered enlistment contract extensions, but nobody signed anything. He goes on to tell his mother that other platoons and a company were ordered forward. “They were all brought back dead. They just keep loading people onto armor and advancing to clear the village, but the Ukrainians are always there waiting and shooting… Yesterday or today people began to refuse to go – Russians refused, well we refused, but the guys from Luhansk went. I refused, no way! I said what the hell? Just shoot me right here, I’m not going!”

It is interesting to note the that, according to this audio, regular Russian contract soldiers refuse to engage the enemy while what we can suppose are volunteer pro-Russian militia from Luhansk do. According to Ukrainian State Security this is tantamount to Russian troops using Ukrainian citizens as human shields.

May 29, 2022 – Failed Russian FSB Propaganda Attempt

A Russian FSB officer reports to his angry superior about the failed staging of a propaganda video. The video was to feature the “voluntary” evacuation of nineteen Vietnamese citizens from the occupied city of Kherson to Crimea. The officer was supposed to organize the evacuation of the Vietnamese, who worked in a Kherson market, and film the event which would show foreigners thanking Russia for saving them. However, the officer explains that the plan backfired when the Vietnamese citizens did not want to leave the city and locked themselves in their apartment. As it turned out FSB operatives broke down the door and found that the people he was looking for were gone. They had already taken off for Odesa; Russians located fourteen of them at the train station trying to escape west. There is an English transcription in the video.