Pres : The war in Ukraine started a year ago. Are you surprised by the resistance of the Ukrainian army?
I don’t see anything surprising about this. The extent of corruption and corruption in the Russian military was underestimated. I’m not talking about bad logistics, just the way it’s all organized. The way this war started was so stupid. In the first days, 100,000 men entered Ukraine. Not anymore. With no back lines and a poor distribution system. With a power like that, how do you want to control a country of 40 million people?
You quickly doubted the foundation of this invasion. Is this feeling generalized around you, in your regiment?
I was far from alone. When we realized that we were invading Ukraine, we asked a lot of questions about the necessity and acceptability of this war. About the morality of shooting a country we have so much in common with. But the army acted like a machine when it had to work. The players asked no questions. They got the order and off they went.
In your book, you talk a lot about the unpreparedness of the Russian military. For you, this is a big part of the problem…
Yes, but be careful not to jump to the wrong conclusions as many Western visitors do. Just because the Russian military is in trouble doesn’t mean it’s a bunch of incompetents. In 1940, he was badly equipped, but he managed to win at the cost of millions of lives. Its potential should not be underestimated.
Have your leaders measured the extent of this lack of preparedness?
I have a very bad opinion of the Russian political sphere and our leaders. I have a feeling they are anti-people! This campaign shows us their incompetence. I tried to figure out why things turned out this way, but incompetence and corruption are not the whole story. I began to feel that this was not wise. All this confusion is a bit on purpose.
After two months in the field, an eye injury allowed you to leave the front line. When did you decide to denounce your story?
When I was in the lead, I already had the idea that I needed to change things. But it was only when I was in the hospital that I decided to write the book. I collected the notes taken on the phone. I pasted them into one file and created a PDF, which was first uploaded to VKontakte in July [le Facebook russe] Then copied and reposted on other sites.
Are you aware of the risks?
100% right from the start. At times I felt somewhat suicidal, but I kept going even though I knew I might be in serious trouble. I knew I could go to jail for insulting the Russian military and being quietly murdered. But I had a little hope of causing a reaction in society, which is why I stayed in Russia for a few more weeks after the publication. I got support in my private debates, but very few wanted to support me publicly. I finally understood that I had to prepare to flee.
You were one of the few people in Russia who publicly condemned the absurdity of this war. How do you explain that?
In Russian society in general, there are more and more means of repression, more sophisticated, more effective, and more control over various spheres of life in society, while the rights of citizens gradually deteriorate. I think it has become a habit for many people. This is why there are less people willing to act or react.
A new offensive by the Russian army, with 300,000 or 350,000 men mobilized in September, was announced. In your opinion, Russian success depends on numbers?
They did not intend to win in numbers. Of that 350,000, I think 150,000 were taken to plug holes in existing “regular” units. Others were distributed in the second and third order. Of those 150,000, at least 100,000 never saw combat. If they are trained, the forward may be the only force that can join effectively and be useful. But is that enough? Not a number that could swing the tide in Russia’s favor. Let’s not forget that the Ukrainian army is now comparable to the Russian army. They have reservation. I don’t see the logic of attacking a foreign country with forces one to one. Yes, the Russian army can recover a village here, a pocket there, but that will not radically change the course of the war. Russia’s use of nuclear weapons or other countries going to war with Ukraine could radically change the course of the war, significantly altering the balance of power.
This is for the future of conflict. And your future, how do you see it?
I try not to think about it too much. It is difficult to say that it is indefinite. I submitted my asylum application file to France. But I know it may take years for an answer. But I don’t think I’ve done anything useful by moving here. I suffered more than I earned. I received no material benefit. Only my moral compass tells me that I may have made the right choice. I don’t have any documents and no chance to work. I don’t know the language. Even the rights to my book have been suspended because a crook tried to pick it up. I am in a very dangerous situation. I’m wearing a nice white shirt today, but I’m really struggling.