NewsRussian fighters for Ukraine. 'Only armed struggle can topple Putin's regime'

Russian fighters for Ukraine. 'Only armed struggle can topple Putin's regime'

Russians have had enough of Putin. They are fighting in Ukraine to defeat him.
Russians have had enough of Putin. They are fighting in Ukraine to defeat him.
Images source: © EPA, PAP | YAKIV LIASHENKO

7:53 AM EST, December 20, 2023

The Siberian Battalion was established within the Armed Forces of Ukraine, joined by representatives of Russia's indigenous populations eager to fight for their independence. These mainly included Buryats and Yakuts, as well as ethnic Russians residing in their republics.

"This war, which benefits a few in Russia, interrupted my normal life. The sole solution to end it is by assisting Ukraine in defeating Russia," referred another.

"Each person fights for their freedom. Some battle for the self-determination rights of Siberia's indigenous populations, expressing their treatment as second-class citizens in Russia. Everyone desires the end of the Russian empire," explains a Ukrainian officer under the alias "West".

The assembly is organized in a secluded village amid a forest. After covering several miles, we reach a gorge surrounded by trees, distant from human habitats, where gunfire resonates. The battalion has already commenced training. Soldiers garbed in camouflaged attire are practicing with live ammunition, prepping for their next frontlines assignment.

Protesting in Russia is seen as futile

All combatants conceal their identities with masks due to fear for their loved ones left back in Russia. They're aware if captured by Russian troops during combat, they might face torturous interrogations at best.

"Or execution for betraying the motherland," explains "German", as per his comrades' reference.

A man from Buryatia shares his feelings of fear and helplessness post-Russia's onslaught on Ukraine. On making his way to Ukraine, he found solace. "I received warmer treatment here than what I experienced in the past 20 years in Russia," he highlights.

When asked about Russia's condition, they believe the current state has no future. Inhabitants are too caught up in survival to consider protest.

"Protest in Russia is a direct way to jail. The only alternative is to join the armed conflict against Putin's regime, in allegiance with Ukraine. This power-abusing gang will not concede willingly. Power change can only be enforced in Russia, that's why I'm here," confesses a soldier under the alias "Eric".

The urgent goal is ending this war

"Eric" suggests the next move post-power seizure is installing a provisional government in Russia tasked with controlling nuclear weapons. "The specifics of the succeeding system are not today's priority. That decision will be made by the Russian populace or the people of the Russian republics. The key concern right now is ending this war and stopping innocent deaths," he emphasizes.

Russian citizens eager to fight for their homeland reach Ukraine via third-party countries. Some pass through Warsaw, where the Russian opposition organization, Citizens' Council, operates. Here, they undergo initial screening prior to joining the Ukrainian army. Contracts are signed, then after a two-month training period, they are sent to the frontline.

Siberian Battalion's soldiers have participated in battles in the Donetsk region, including Avdiivka. There were injuries, but no fatalities. Their performance has been recognized by the Ukrainian command.

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