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Russian paratrooper’s bombshell diary exposes chaos in Ukraine

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.

After being discharged due to a severe eye infection, the paratrooper released a brutally candid 141-page account of his wartime experiences on the Russian social media site VKontake at a considerable personal risk.

Russian paratrooper Pavel Filatyev, 34, published on social media his unvarnished and harrowing account of his experiences fighting in Ukraine.
Russian paratrooper Pavel Filatyev, 34, published on social media his unvarnished and harrowing account of his experiences fighting in Ukraine.

“I’m aware of the consequences for disseminating information about my military service, but to conceal it for me means contributing to more loses,” Filatyev wrote in his journal, which was verified by The Post.

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.”

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

Filatyev — a second-generation paratrooper — said that he arrived at a training camp in Crimea less than two weeks before the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine to find his entire squadron made up of 40 people having to share a single tent equipped with just one camp stove.

“Even in Chechnya, where we lived in tents or mud huts, our living conditions were organized better,” he recounted. “Here we had nowhere to wash up… for those who arrived later than the rest, me and about five other people, there was neither a sleeping bag, nor camouflage, armor, or helmets left.”

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.

Around Feb. 20, the paratrooper recalled that an order came down to move out and go on a forced march to an unknown location.

“Some people cracked jokes that now we would attack Ukraine and capture Kyiv in three days, but already then I thought it is no time for laughter,” he wrote. “I said that if something like this were to happen, we would not capture anything in three days.”

Filatyev wrote that he became aware that something serious was afoot three days later, when a commander arrived and announced that starting on Feb. 24, the paratroopers’ salary would go up to $69 a day. Soon, rumors began swirling that the squadron was about to attack Kherson.

Filatyev described the Russian army being in complete disarray, lacking basic equipment and being led by inept officers.
Filatyev described the Russian army being in complete disarray, lacking basic equipment and being led by inept officers.

“Everything changed that day. I noticed how people began to change, some were nervous and tried not to talk anyone, some openly seemed scared, some, on the contrary, were unusually cheerful and upbeat,” he wrote, adding that he felt both humbled and animated, attributing those emotions to a surge of adrenaline.

Filatyev said he was awakened at 4 a.m. the following morning by a roar that made the ground shake, which was accompanied by an acrid smell of gunpowder.

“I understood that something global was happening, but I did not know what exactly,” he recalled.

He said one of his commanders tried to raise the troops’ morale, but Filatyev said he could seen that the officer was “freaking out” amid the chaos.

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.”

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.

As the Russian offensive ground to a halt amid a furious Ukrainian resistance and growing aid from the West, Filatyev described the next month of his life in the trenches as “Groundhog Day.”

“We were digging in, artillery was shelling us, our aviation was almost nowhere to be seen,” he said. “We just held positions in the trenches on the front line, we could not shower, eat, or sleep properly.”

The war in Ukraine is now approaching its sixth month.
The war in Ukraine is now approaching its sixth month.

He added: “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.

Upon returning to Russia, the 34-year-old veteran said that he decided to follow his conscience and do everything in his power to “stop this madness.”

“We did not have the moral right to attack another country, especially the people closest to us,” Filatyev said.

He concluded his harrowing account with the words: “NO TO WAR!”

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.

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