A 34-year-old Russian paratrooper named Pavel Filatyev has written a brutally critical account of his time in the Russian army leading up to and during the invasion of Ukraine. The 141-page account can be read here in Russian and, based on the lengthy Twitter thread below by military historian Chris Owen, reads something like a cross between Catch-22 and The Good Soldier Svejk.
1/ A 34-year-old former Russian paratrooper, Pavel Filatyev, has published a remarkable in-depth account of his experiences of the Ukraine war. He served with the Feodosia-based 56th Guards Air Assault Regiment and fought in southern Ukraine for two months. A 🧵 follows. pic.twitter.com/upGQAejb12
— ChrisO (@ChrisO_wiki) August 17, 2022
Among other things, Filatyev details squalid, unlivable conditions throughout basic training, created and compounded by bureaucracy and ineptitude at every level:
I had to run like a homeless from one barracks to another, looking for a bed to sleep in, until I found a place to rent at my own expense
There is not enough food for everyone, the potatoes in the soup are raw… the bread is stale
We get up at 5 in the morning, spend three hours lined up and waiting for the truck, we finally go, we arrive at 12, line up, stand, the commanders at the range do not like the way some piece of paper is filled out, the major tears up the sheet and throws it. He yells with hysterical cries that there will be no firing because of this…
Per The Guardian, yesterday, Filatyev goes on to write about his experience of the taking of Kherson:
Like savages, we ate everything there: oats, porridge, jam, honey, coffee … We didn’t give a damn about anything, we’d already been pushed to the limit. Most had spent a month in the fields with no hint of comfort, a shower or normal food.
What a wild state you can drive people to by not giving any thought to the fact that they need to sleep, eat and wash. Everything around gave us a vile feeling; like wretches we were just trying to survive.
Filatyev, of course, published this account at great personal risk, and has since fled Russia. But before doing so, he was interviewed in a Moscow cafe:
I am not afraid to fight in war. But I need to feel justice, to understand that what I’m doing is right. And I believe that this is all failing not only because the government has stolen everything, but because we, Russians, don’t feel that what we are doing is right.
I am just terrified of what happens next. What will we pay for [total victory]? Who will be left in our country? … For myself I said that this is a personal tragedy. Because what have we become? And how can it get any worse?
I very much hope this memoir is already on the way to a full translation in multiple languages.