Wagner defector sheds mild on brutality in Ukraine

Oslo, Norway

A former Wagner mercenary says the brutality he witnessed in Ukraine in the end pushed him to defect, in an unique CNN interview on Monday.

Wagner fighters have been usually despatched into battle with little course, and the corporate’s therapy of reluctant recruits was ruthless, Andrei Medvedev instructed CNN’s Anderson Cooper from Norway’s capital Oslo, the place he’s in search of asylum after crossing that nation’s arctic border from Russia.

“They would round up those who did not want to fight and shoot them in front of newcomers,” he alleges. “They brought two prisoners who refused to go fight and they shot them in front of everyone and buried them right in the trenches that were dug by the trainees.”

The 26-year-old, who says he beforehand served within the Russian army, joined Wagner as a volunteer. He crossed into Ukraine lower than 10 days after signing his contract in July 2022, serving close to Bakhmut, the frontline metropolis within the Donetsk area. The mercenary group has emerged as a key participant in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Medvedev stated he reported on to the group’s founders, Dmitry Utkin and Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, whom he describes as “the devil.”

“If (Prigozhin) was a Russian hero, he would have taken a gun and run with the soldiers,” Medvedev stated.

In a press release emailed to CNN on Tuesday, Prigozhin declined to touch upon “military issues” and described Wagner as an “exemplary military organization that complies with all the necessary laws and rules of modern wars.” The Wagner boss has beforehand confirmed that Medvedev had served in his firm, and stated that he “should have been prosecuted for attempting to mistreat prisoners.”

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Medvedev instructed CNN that he didn’t wish to touch upon what he’d finished himself whereas preventing in Ukraine.

Yevgeny Prigozhin

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Medvedev spoke to CNN from Oslo after crossing its border in a daring defection that, he says noticed him evade arrest “at least ten times” and dodge bullets from Russian forces. He crossed into Norway over an icy lake utilizing white camouflage to mix in, he stated.

He instructed CNN that he knew by the sixth day of his deployment in Ukraine that he didn’t wish to return for one more tour after witnessing troops being become cannon fodder.

He began off with 10 males underneath his command, a quantity that grew as soon as prisoners have been allowed to affix, he stated. “There were more dead bodies, and more, and more, people coming in. In the end I had a lot of people under my command,” he stated. “I couldn’t count how many. They were in constant circulation. Dead bodies, more prisoners, more dead bodies, more prisoners.”

Wagner lacked a tactical technique, with troops arising with plans on the fly, Medvedev stated.

“There were no real tactics at all. We just got orders about the position of the adversary…There were no definite orders about how we should behave. We just planned how we would go about it, step by step. Who would open fire, what kind of shifts we would have…How it how it how it would turn out that was our problem,” he stated.

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Advocacy teams say prisoners who enlisted have been instructed their households would obtain a pay-out of 5 million rubles ($71,000) in the event that they died within the conflict.

But in actuality “nobody wanted to pay that kind of money,” Medvedev stated. He alleged that many Russians who died preventing in Ukraine have been “just declared missing.”

Prigozhin dismissed the accusation in his response to CNN, saying “to date, not a single case of non-payment of insurance pay-outs has been recorded in the Wagner Group.”

Medvedev was emotional at occasions within the interview, telling CNN that he noticed braveness on either side of the conflict.

“You know, I saw courage on both sides, on the Ukrainian side as well, and our boys too… I just want them to know that,” he stated.

He added that he desires to now share his story so as to assist deliver Prigozhin and Russian President Vladimir Putin to justice.

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“Sooner or later the propaganda in Russia will stop working, the people will rise up and all our leaders …will be up for grabs and a new leader will emerge.”

Wagner is commonly described as Putin’s off-the-books troops. It has expanded its footprint globally since its creation in 2014, and has been accused of conflict crimes in Africa, Syria and Ukraine.

When requested if he fears the destiny meted on one other Wagner defector, Yevgeny Nuzhin, who was murdered on digicam with a sledgehammer, Medvedev stated Nuzhin’s loss of life emboldened him to go away.

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“I would just say that it made me bolder, more determined to leave,” he stated.

Correction: An earlier model of this story misstated the yr during which Medvedev entered Ukraine as a Wagner recruit.