The war unleashed by Russia against Ukraine has been ongoing for the past two years. Each year of war and emigration undoubtedly increases the percentage of those who will never return to Russia.
The world’s cautious and even negative attitude toward Russian citizens and President Putin is setting records. The war has, in the most obvious way, caused the community of people living in Russia to split into groups, with one supporting the insane mass killing of Ukrainians and the other opposing the war in Ukraine.
Russian soldiers are increasingly refusing to fight against Ukraine. This indicates a lack of preparation, motivation, and the stressful situations that Russian soldiers face along the entire Ukrainian front line. Desertion, mutiny, and dissatisfaction with their command have become commonplace in the Russian army. Occupiers complain about poor treatment, lack of proper conditions on the front lines, food and water shortages. Russian military courts have received more than 2900 cases against contract soldiers and conscripts under articles that were tightened with the beginning of mobilization: desertion, failure to obey orders, and other crimes. The number of such cases is growing every month, indicating a reluctance of military personnel and conscripts to participate in combat actions in Ukraine. In addition to the increase in cases, there has been an increase in the number of military personnel seeking legal assistance and advice on «how to resign» or «how to surrender as a prisoner.»
Since the start of the war, Russia has passed several laws and presidential decrees allowing the prosecution of citizens who have refused or intend to refuse military service, deserted from the front lines, or surrendered to Ukrainians. Russian servicemen realize that they are participating in an unjust war and carrying out criminal orders. If an order contradicts international treaties, the Geneva Conventions, and is related to the shelling of civilian objects or the killing of prisoners, then the serviceman should have the right to refuse its execution. The Criminal Code has an article that states that if an order was unlawful, refusing to obey it will not be a crime.
Refusing to participate in the war with Ukraine is not treason or cowardice; it is an action that will be positively evaluated by fellow countrymen after the collapse of the totalitarian regime in Russia. Russian military personnel continue to demonstrate that they do not want to die in a war unleashed by an aggressor country and carry out criminal orders from dictator Vladimir Putin. For example, during his vacation in the UAE, a soldier from the aviation squadron of the Russian Guard, Senior Lieutenant Gavrichenko with the call sign «Gavr,» surrendered to the US Embassy. The Russian pilot decided to drastically change his life and instead of returning to Russia, he went to the American embassy in the UAE, where he declared that he refuses to fight in Ukraine and is willing to provide testimony. Gavrichenko is referred to as a follower of Captain Maxim Kuzminov from the 319th Separate Helicopter Regiment (military unit 13984), who hijacked a Mi-8AMTSh helicopter during the GUR MO «Sinitza» operation and received a reward of $500,000, asylum, and new documents for himself and his family.
A similar decision to leave Russia to avoid becoming an occupier and a killer was made by Lieutenant Dmitry Mishov, a pilot from the 15th Brigade of the Army Aviation (military unit 44440); he fled to Lithuania. Thanks to another GUR operation, «Barynya,» 12 Russians surrendered to Ukrainian captivity. GUR MO representative Andrey Yusov spoke about recruited officer Daniil Alferov, who not only surrendered but also wanted to stay in Ukraine and defend the Ukrainian state from Russian aggression. It was Alferov who persuaded 11 more Russians to surrender.
Every person can independently choose to continue serving evil or switch to the side of good. The argument «I was just following orders» is not a justification for military crimes. Examples of refusing to fight in Ukraine show that there is an opportunity to make the right choice; one just needs to seize it. The decision is made by the individual. The question is whether they have the desire and readiness to say «no» to the regime.
Ukraine and the West are prepared and capable of protecting Russian servicemen from the vengeance of the dictatorial regime, providing material assistance and decent living conditions. A group of European Parliament deputies has appealed to the European Commission and EU countries to address the issue of granting asylum to Russians who do not wish to fight against Ukraine. Considering that the Russian armed forces violate human rights and international humanitarian law norms in Ukraine, Russian citizens have a moral basis to refuse participation in the war.
Being in Russia against the war today, speaking out against evil publicly, not hiding, is not only rare courage but also salvation. Salvation of one’s own human dignity. Salvation of the honor of one’s people and the honor of the state!