KYIV, Ukraine — With fingers nonetheless soiled from the battlefield, a dozen Russian prisoners of warfare sat, stony-faced, in a convention room of a Ukrainian information company on Saturday and described being captured after their armored columns have been ambushed.
Lt. Dmitry Kovalensky, who had fought in a Russian tank unit and spoke on the behest of his Ukrainian captors, mentioned he lately got here beneath fireplace from an armed drone and shoulder-launched anti-tank missiles on a street close to Sumy, in northeastern Ukraine. “The entire column burned,” he mentioned.
Across the similar time and some miles away, at a makeshift Ukrainian army base in an deserted constructing on the western fringe of Kyiv, Ukrainian troopers ready for a similar form of ambushes that took out Lieutenant Kovalensky’s unit.
Lt. Yevgeny Yarantsev, a Ukrainian officer, mentioned his nation’s troopers struggle in another way than the Russians. The troops beneath his command set up in small, nimble models that may sneak up on and ambush the lumbering columns of Russian tanks.
“They’ve quite a lot of tanks, we have now quite a lot of anti-tank weapons,” mentioned Lieutenant Yarantsev, who beforehand fought with a volunteer group towards Russia in japanese Ukraine. “Within the open subject, will probably be even. It’s simpler to struggle within the metropolis.”
The 2 younger officers — the identical rank, however every representing a unique nation — gave among the few firsthand accounts of the combating which have emerged within the 10-day warfare. The Russian was a prisoner of warfare talking beneath the watchful eye of closely armed Ukrainian safety officers. The Ukrainian spoke as he displayed newly obtained, subtle weapons from the USA.
The accounts of troopers from either side give a small glimpse of how the warfare is being fought round Kyiv within the north. There, relying largely on ambush ways, Ukrainian forces have slowed the Russian marketing campaign to encircle and seize the capital, whilst Russian troops barrel throughout the south.
Lieutenant Kovalensky and the opposite Russian prisoners have been offered at a information convention supposed to assist Ukraine’s declare that it had captured a big variety of Russian troopers. Of their statements, the prisoners blended woodenly phrased condemnations of their very own nation’s management with genuine-sounding particulars of the battle’s early firefights.
In response to the principles governing remedy of prisoners of warfare beneath the Geneva Conventions, governments are supposed to guard a prisoner of warfare from being made right into a “public curiosity,” an idea that’s typically interpreted as not presenting them in any public setting. The Russian troopers appeared exhausted, however confirmed no outward indicators of getting been mistreated.
The prisoners’ feedback and the actual fact of their seize supported descriptions by Western army analysts and governments of a Russian offensive that has suffered grave setbacks. The Russian military’s superior numbers and tools, nevertheless, might properly reverse that development.
“Close to the top of the day’s motion on Feb. 27, our column was attacked,” Pvt. Dmitry Gagarin of the Russian military instructed the reporters. “My commander burned and died. I bumped into the forest and later surrendered to native folks.”
Lieutenant Kovalensky mentioned he realized Russia would invade Ukraine solely the night earlier than the tank columns started transferring, and that troopers on the rank of sergeant and decrease weren’t instructed the place they have been driving till after crossing the border.
All of the prisoners described being captured after their armored columns have been ambushed on roads, accounts that supported Ukraine’s assertions that its army had made good use of Western-supplied anti-tank weaponry, such because the American-made Javelin missile. However impartial analysts have additionally described extra mundane issues for the Russian military, together with logistical snarls and an absence of gas.
Lieutenant Yarantsev, the Ukrainian officer, instructions what he described as a cellular group of about 500 troopers who’re skirmishing with the Russians on the western strategy to Kyiv. He mentioned that their prospects have been bolstered three days in the past after they acquired Barrett 50-caliber sniper rifles in a cargo from the USA.
Modern and black, with barrels so lengthy they give the impression of being nearly like spears, the rifles have been being unpacked and inspected. One sniper, who declined to supply his title, mentioned he had fired one in fight on the outskirts of Kyiv.
Lieutenant Yarantsev mentioned the troops have been extra comfy having the ability to garrison in buildings than in fields or forests. “I’ve observed one thing about warfare,” he mentioned. “Troopers need to be someplace the place cellphones work and the place there’s web.”
The constructing the troopers have taken up in, in a leafy residential space of the town, was cluttered with ammunition containers. Two hand grenades sat on the ground beside a settee. The troopers had an electrical kettle and provided espresso. In a hallway, a soldier oiled his Kalashnikov.
The combating has been inching nearer to the capital. Ukraine’s protection minister, Oleksii Reznikov, mentioned in a press release on Saturday that the Russian forces’ major goal is to encircle Kyiv, following the tactic they’ve pursued with smaller cities reminiscent of Mariupol on the Sea of Azov, which is now surrounded, with its warmth and electrical energy reduce off.
The combating round Kyiv is generally in Irpin and Bucha, two outlying cities to the northwest, the place circumstances are grim. A central avenue in Bucha is now clogged with the burned husks of Russian armored personnel carriers, destroyed in an ambush.
Stanislav Bobrytsky, a pc programmer reached by telephone in Irpin, mentioned he had not left his house since Tuesday. “All of the home windows are shaking” from blasts, he mentioned. “It’s very scary.”
Within the middle of Kyiv, on the information convention with captured Russian troopers, the Ukrainian safety officers current refused to talk. A moderator handed round a microphone, providing reporters a chance to query the prisoners.
Lieutenant Kovalensky mentioned he was interesting to the Russian folks to stand up and overthrow President Vladimir V. Putin as a result of the Russian management had deceived the military’s officers in regards to the goals of the warfare and had used the guise of a army train to organize for an invasion.
The prisoners mentioned they didn’t know what would occur to them after the information convention. Whereas they mentioned they have been handled properly, days after their seize it was unclear if that they had showered or been provided clear garments.
Maria Varenikova contributed reporting from Lviv, Ukraine.