Nikita Chibrin says he nonetheless remembers his fellow Russian troopers operating away after allegedly raping two Ukrainian girls throughout their deployment northwest of Kyiv in March.
“I noticed them run, then I realized they had been rapists. They raped a mom and a daughter,” he stated. Their commanders, Chibrin stated, shrugged when discovering out concerning the rapes. The alleged rapists had been overwhelmed, he says, however by no means absolutely punished for his or her crimes.
“They had been by no means jailed. Simply fired. Similar to that: ‘Go!’ They had been merely dismissed from the struggle. 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 army unit accused of committing struggle crimes throughout their offensive in Bucha, Borodianka and different cities and villages north of Kyiv.
He abandoned from the Russian army in September and fled to Europe by way of Belarus and Kazakhstan.
Troops from Chibrin’s brigade had been labeled struggle criminals by the Ukrainian Ministry of Protection in April after mass graves containing murdered civilians and lifeless our bodies mendacity within the streets had been found following the withdrawal of Russian forces from the Kyiv area.
Chibrin’s army paperwork, seen by CNN, present his commander was Azatbek Omurbekov, the officer accountable for the sixty fourth Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade. Omurbekov, generally known as the “Butcher of Bucha” is beneath sanctions by the European Union and the UK. The US have sanctioned the whole brigade.
The Kremlin has denied any involvement within the mass killings, whereas reiterating baseless claims that the pictures of civilian our bodies had been pretend.
In a transfer that sparked outrage internationally, Russian President Vladimir Putin awarded the unit an honorary army title and praised it for its “heroism” and “daring actions.”
Chibrin stated he didn’t see any of the supposed heroism, however most of the crimes.
Talking to CNN in a European nation the place he has requested asylum, he detailed a number of the crimes he says he witnessed and heard accounts of, and stated he’d be ready to testify in opposition to his unit at a world legal court docket. He maintains he himself didn’t commit any crimes.
“I didn’t see murders however I noticed rapists operating away, being chased (by higher-ranking members of the unit) as a result of they dedicated rape,” he stated.
He additionally stated that the unit had a “direct command to homicide” anybody sharing details about the unit’s positions, whether or not army or civilians.
“If somebody had a cellphone – we had been allowed to shoot them,” he stated. He claims there may be little doubt a number of the males within the sixty fourth Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade had been able to killing unarmed civilians.
“There are maniacs who get pleasure from killing a person. Such maniacs turned up there,” he stated.
Chibrin additionally described widespread looting, with Russian troopers taking computer systems, jewellery and something they appreciated.
“They didn’t cover this in any respect. Rather a lot from my unit, once we left Lipovka and Andreevka ultimately of March, they took vehicles, automobiles, they took civilian vehicles and offered them in Belarus,” he stated. “The mentality is, should you steal one thing, you’re good. If no person catches you, good! If you happen to see one thing that’s costly and also you steal it and don’t get caught, you’re good.”
As for the unit’s commanders, he stated they had been nicely conscious of the alleged rapes and murders and of the looting, however took little curiosity in searching for justice.
“They reacted like: ‘No matter. It occurred. So what?’ Really, there was no response,” he stated. “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 struggle in opposition to Ukraine, however not till many extra lives are misplaced.
“As a result of Russia gained’t cease till massive blood is spilled, till everybody dies. Troopers are cannon fodder to them. They don’t respect them,” he stated.
Having seen the preventing first hand, he stated the tools Russian troopers have isn’t any match for the weapons to which Ukraine has entry. He says that whereas Ukraine is receiving a number of the most superior weaponry out there from its Western allies, the Russian military is counting on Soviet-era tools used in the course of the struggle in Afghanistan within the Nineteen Eighties.
“In fact Russia will lose. As a result of the entire world is supporting Ukraine. To assume that they (the Russians) will win is silly,” he stated. “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 had been advised to f*** off and thrown Molotov cocktails at.”
Males in his unit had been additionally extraordinarily ill-prepared for fight, in keeping with Chibrin. He stated the coaching his unit obtained consisted of commanders giving them a weapon, a goal and 5,000 bullets.
“Maintain taking pictures after which you’re 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 stated.
The dearth of coaching grew to become apparent as soon as in Ukraine. The identical males who had been boasting about being “like Rambo” earlier than they had been deployed got here again damaged, he stated. “Those that stated they’d be taking pictures Ukrainians simply, once they come again from the entrance strains … they may not even communicate to me. They noticed the struggle, they noticed defeat, noticed their [fellow] combatants being murdered, noticed corpses. They realized – however they couldn’t run away.”
He stated most of the males had been poorly skilled and most had no concept the place they had been headed.
“It was an enormous lie. It was a army coaching with the Belarusian military. They usually lied to us. On February 24 they only stated everybody will go to struggle,” Chibrin stated, including that he initially refused to go.
“The very first thing I stated was, ‘Commander, f*** you, I don’t wish to go to the struggle’ and he stated, ‘Hey you, you’ll have massive issues, you’ll go to jail and your loved ones may have massive 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 on the finish of March from the world northwest of Kyiv, following the failed offensive there, he and his unit returned to Belarus.
He stated he was affected by a again harm and went to a army hospital in Russia, however was pressured to return to Ukraine in Might. This time he was despatched to the Kharkiv area in jap Ukraine, after which frolicked within the forests round Izyum.
It was then that he lastly discovered an opportunity to flee, he stated. He seen that commanders of different items had been leaving the world for Russia in a truck and jumped in.
“I soar in [the bed of the truck] and I see, wow, different guys, additionally leaving Ukraine. They usually say we don’t wish to [fight the] struggle, 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 would like the medical assist,” he stated.
As soon as again in Russia, Chibrin stated he spent practically a month in hospital, most of that being bedridden with horrible again ache. However he stated he was unable to get correct therapy. “They stated that if I needed to go to a particular sanatorium, I wanted to signal a paper that stated I’d return to struggle,” he stated.
Refusing to signal, Chibrin stated he was on the point of submit paperwork to get his army contract canceled when the Russian authorities introduced a partial mobilization in September.
“And my mates advised me I wanted to cover. ‘You must discover place and conceal, your contract won’t be canceled due to the mobilization,” he stated. Realizing 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 finally traveled to his present location.
Now he’s decided to talk up concerning the occasions he witnessed in Ukraine, even writing an anti-war tune. “Lots of of souls, a whole bunch of our bodies of misplaced individuals. Lots of of moms with out youngsters,” the refrain goes.