Secretly intercepted phone calls from Russian soldiers in Ukraine reveal how fear and propaganda fueled Russia’s violence against its neighbour --- (Podcast, 50 min) ( )

Cross-posted from:

[Warning: The podcast contains potentially distressing content.]

The day President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion, Feb. 24, 2022, Russia unleashed a brutal assault on the strategic port city of Mariupol. That same day, a team of AP reporters arrived in the city. Vasilisa Stepanenko, Evgeniy Maloletka and Mstyslav Chernov kept their cameras and tape recorders rolling throughout the onslaught. Together, they captured some of the defining images of the war in Ukraine. Stepanenko and Maloletka talk with guest host Michael Montgomery about risking their lives to document blasted buildings, burned-out cars, enormous bomb craters and the daily life of traumatized civilians. As Russian troops advanced on Mariupol, the journalists managed to escape with hours of their own material and recordings from the body camera of a noted Ukrainian medic, Yuliia Paievska. The powerful footage went viral and showed the world the shocking brutalities of the war, as well as remarkable acts of courage by journalists, doctors and ordinary citizens.

Next, we listen to audio that’s never been publicly shared before: phone calls Russian soldiers made during the first weeks of the invasion, secretly recorded by the Ukrainian government. AP reporter Erika Kinetz obtained more than 2,000 of these calls. Using social media and other tools, she explores the lives of two soldiers whose calls home capture intimate moments with friends and family. The intercepted calls reveal the fear-mongering and patriotism that led some of the men to go from living regular lives as husbands, sons and fathers to talking about killing civilians.

In Bucha, a suburb of Kyiv, Russian soldiers left streets strewn with the bodies of civilians killed during their brief occupation. Kinetz shares her experiences visiting Bucha and speaking with survivors soon after Russian troops retreated. In the secret intercepts, Russian soldiers tell their families about being ordered to take no prisoners and speak of “cleansing operations.” One soldier tells his mother: “We don’t imprison them. We kill them all.”

Will Russian soldiers and political leaders be prosecuted for war crimes? Montgomery talks with Oleksandra Matviichuk, a Ukrainian human rights lawyer who received a 2022 Nobel Peace Prize. She runs the Center for Civil Liberties in Kyiv, which has been gathering evidence of human rights abuses and war crimes in Ukraine since Russia’s first invasion in 2014. Matviichuk says it’s important for war crimes to be handled by Ukrainian courts, but the country’s legal system is overwhelmed and notoriously corrupt. She says there is an important role for the international community in creating a system that can bring justice for all Ukrainians.

ogmios , avatar

there is an important role for the international community in creating a system

Yeaaaaa... that's gonna be a no from me dawg. That "One World Government" talk sounds like a really terrible idea, considering the problems we already have with much smaller and weaker governments.

photoncollector , avatar

@ogmios @0x815

I would love it if the New World Order or some other vast conspiracy was real. It would be easier to live with than the truth. The truth is that we live in the middle of endless chaos, in a world that no one is in control of.

ogmios , avatar

The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.

I would recommend studying more of whatever scientific discipline interests you if that is how you view things. The human world is extremely chaotic because people continually attempt to assert control far beyond their means, but ultimately the natural universe is a thing of incredible beauty and intricate complexity.

nexusband , (edited ) avatar

It doesn't even work properly for Europe. Sure, the idea is great and in some parts, it actually does work - but the details are horrible. Especially because some opinions are completely opposite to each other and cannot even be reasoned with, because there is no compromise.

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