‘I want to live’: the Ukraine hotline encouraging Russians to surrender

1 week ago 9

More than 6,500 Russian subject unit person sought to surrender done a bespoke “I privation to live” hotline, Ukraine’s authorities has claimed, with the telephone centre said to person been precocious moved to a concealed determination to debar Moscow interference.

Vitaly Matvienko, spokesperson astatine the section for prisoners of war, said those who had made interaction done the work had been verified arsenic serving successful the Russian forces utilizing their idiosyncratic information and work number.

Between 15 September, erstwhile the hotline launched, and 20 January, it is claimed that 6,543 Russian unit contacted the Ukrainian authorities to surrender themselves into their custody, often from the frontline.

The hotline, fielded by 10 operators, had been established pursuing Vladimir Putin’s announcement of a mobilisation of 300,000 civilians with erstwhile subject acquisition to articulation the Russian warfare effort.

‘I privation  to live’ concern  cards
Matvienko displaying immoderate ‘I privation to live’ concern cards. Photograph: Ed Ram/The Guardian

Matvienko declined to remark connected the fig of completed surrenders but described the service, which is staffed 24/7, arsenic “totally successful”, with betwixt 50 and 100 calls and messages to the service’s Telegram transmission being received each day.

The telephone centre was moved a period agone from the department’s Kyiv offices to a concealed determination owed to fearfulness of it being targeted by Russian attacks, helium said.

The propaganda worth is wide for Ukraine’s government, with 2 cardinal radical having visited the I privation to unrecorded website successful December alone, of which 1.6 cardinal were successful Russia.

Those who person handed themselves successful are offered the accidental to beryllium portion of captive swaps arranged betwixt the Russian and Ukrainian governments oregon to enactment successful custody with the imaginable to stay successful Ukraine aboriginal oregon to emigrate.

A full of 1,646 Ukrainian unit person been released by the Russian authorities arsenic portion of specified swaps, Matvienko said. The astir caller woody was completed connected 8 January erstwhile 50 unit connected each broadside were exchanged, with negotiations connected others continuing.

Matvienko said determination were 2 stages to surrendering. “The archetypal signifier is Russian soldiers who are mobilised, partially mobilised, not mobilised yet, telephone to this hotline to this chatbot and say: ‘I’m going to surrender,’” helium said. “After that helium is obligated to permission his idiosyncratic data. After the worker reaches Ukrainian territory, it’s obligated for him to telephone again and say, ‘I’m going to surrender’ and Ukrainian operators assistance him to scope a harmless spot wherever helium meets Ukrainian peculiar forces.”

Vitaly Matvienko successful  his bureau   boardroom.
Vitaly Matvienko successful his bureau boardroom. Photograph: Ed Ram/The Guardian

He said that the levels of involvement connected the work depended connected developments connected the battlefield. “During the liberation of Kherson, we had calls from Russians and they told us: ‘Just prevention our souls due to the fact that we got stuck determination successful the mud, our battalion is wholly crashed, we person 10 soldiers left, delight instrumentality america from this mess.’”

'Do I person to get connected my knees?': Russian worker calls Ukrainian surrender hotline – audio

Oksana, 25, 1 of the telephone centre handlers, said each telephone was antithetic but that they each gave her anticipation that the Russian warfare effort was weakening. “Some radical telephone and say, ‘I’m determination successful the military. I privation to surrender,’ others say, ‘I americium acrophobic to beryllium mobilised successful Russia, what bash I request to do’. And immoderate of them archer me, ‘I’m connected the territory oregon Ukraine, I privation to surrender.’ They are acrophobic and they don’t cognize what to do.”

Matvienko personally passes connected “I privation to live” concern cards to the released prisoners arsenic those who person been swapped person been recovered to person been aboriginal redeployed to the battlefield.

The claims of the Ukrainian section for prisoners of warfare could not beryllium independently verified.