According to the Ukrainian government, 6,500 Russian soldiers have already tried to surrender via a dedicated helpline: “I want to live.” The call center was recently moved to an undisclosed location to avoid Moscow’s interference. This is what he writes in the British Guardian newspaper.
He listens. In the audio recording, a Russian soldier can be heard wanting to surrender
The hotline, which has 10 operators, was set up after Vladimir Putin announced he would mobilize 300,000 civilians with ex-military experience to join Russia’s war effort. Between 15 September, when the hotline was launched, and 20 January, 6,543 Russian military personnel were reported to have contacted the Ukrainian government to surrender to the government, often from the front lines.
Those who surrender themselves are given the opportunity to be part of a prisoner exchange between the Russian and Ukrainian governments or remain in detention with the option to later stay in Ukraine or emigrate.
“I will surrender”
POW spokesman Vitaly Matvienko declined to comment on the number of surrenders completed but described the service, which operates 24/7, as “completely successful”. They will receive between 50 and 100 calls a day and also many messages on the service’s Telegram channel.
The surrender takes place in two stages, Matvienko told the Guardian: “First, Russian soldiers who are mobilized, partially mobilized, or not yet mobilized, call this hotline and say, ‘I will surrender.’ Then, they have to leave their personal data. After the soldier arrives at Ukrainian lands, they have to call again and say again: “I will surrender.” The Ukrainian operators then help them get to a safe place where they meet up with the Ukrainian Special Forces.
“Save our lives”
Interest in the service, Matvienko said, depends on developments on the battlefield. “During the liberation of Kherson, we received calls from the Russians saying:“ Save our lives, because we are stuck in the mud somewhere, our battalion is completely broken, we have 10 soldiers left, please get us out of this mess.”
Every call is different, but they all give her hope that the Russian war effort is weakening, Oksana, 25, one of the call center attendees, told The Guardian. “Some people call and say, I’m afraid of mobilization in Russia, what should I do?” Others say, “I’m on the territory of Ukraine, I want to surrender.” They are afraid and don’t know what to do.”
The allegations of the Ukrainian prisoner-of-war administration could not be independently verified.
See also. All about the war between Russia and Ukraine in pictures
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