Russian woes exposed: Paratrooper’s diary

Russian woes exposed: Paratrooper’s diary. By Snejana Farberov.

A Russian paratrooper has revealed gut-wrenching details in a new memoir about the war in Ukraine, describing friendly-fire incidents, hordes of starving, marauding troops, and panicked commanders unable to stop general chaos.

Pavel Filatyev, 34, had spent more than a month fighting in Kherson and Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine while serving with the Russian military’s 56th Airborne Regiment. …

Filatyev opened his diary — written in plain prose sprinkled with eye-watering Russian profanities and military jargon — by sarcastically remarking that it was a shame that journalists were not allowed to visit soldiers on the front lines …

“Because of that the entire nation has been denied the pleasure of admiring unshaven, unwashed, filthy, emaciated paratroopers who are angry either at the stubborn Ukrainians who are refusing to denazify themselves,” he wrote, “or at their own talentless commanders who are incapable of equipping them even in wartime.”

Inadequate equipment and food:

Filatyev claimed that half of his comrades would change into and wear Ukrainian uniforms because they were made of higher-quality fabric and were more comfortable than their Russian-made fatigues. …

Filatyev wrote that when he was issued his service rifle, it was rusty, had a broken belt and kept getting jammed after firing, forcing him to spend hours cleaning it with oil just to get it to work. …

Filatyev’s squadron was ultimately sent to capture Kherson. On the way, they encountered bedraggled, wild-eyed comrades who told them in graphic detail how they spent a sleepless night collecting Russian corpses.

When they finally reached Kherson, starving, sleep-deprived, cold and filthy Russian soldiers proceeded to ransack buildings in search of food and anything valuable.

“We ate everything like savages, all that was there was, cereal, oatmeal, jam, honey, coffee,” Filatyev recounted. “Nobody cared about anything, we were already pushed to the limit.”

Poor low-level leadership:

In early March, Filatyev’s unit was ordered to attack Mykolaiv and Odessa. While wandering through the woods, he said, he asked a commander about their next move, and was told that the senior officer had no idea what to do. …

Appalling morale:

“Some grandmother poisoned our pies. Almost everyone got a fungus, someone’s teeth fell out, the skin was peeling off.”

As the conditions deteriorated, the 34-year-old paratrooper claimed that some desperate soldiers began to shoot themselves to get a payout from the Russian government and go home.

Filatyev’s own ticket home came in the form of an artillery volley that kicked up a cloud of dirt that got into his face, causing a serious “pink eye”-like infection that nearly cost him an eye — but ensured his survival. …

Shut up, they say:

Since publishing his bombshell memoir denouncing the war and harshly criticizing the military leadership — which is illegal under Russian law and punishable by jail time — Filatyev has left Russia with the help of a civil rights organization and moved to an undisclosed location.

In 1914, the great Russian steamroller that attacked Germany consisted largely of troops who shared rifles — often two or more men to a single rifle at Tannenburg. The German machine guns picked them apart.

For centuries the Russian Army has not been up to western levels, but was formidable because of huge numbers of infantry. Today, it is still not up to western standards but it has run out of infantry — unless they mobilize, but they won’t do that unless Russia is attacked.