NewsRussian soldiers desert in growing numbers with "Idite lasom" help

Russian soldiers desert in growing numbers with "Idite lasom" help

Russia Vladimir Putin during a visit to military exercises
Russia Vladimir Putin during a visit to military exercises
Images source: © Russian MOD | materiały prasowe
Tomasz Molga

7 July 2024 11:56

- We really are d*** orcs, - admits 31-year-old Anton in an interview with journalists. He is one of the recently revealed Russian deserters. He is seeking asylum in Europe after managing to escape from the front lines of the war in Ukraine with the help of an organisation called "Idite lasom" ("Go through the forest - translation).

Contract soldiers recruited into the Russian army for the war in Ukraine are already receiving a monthly salary of 360,000-400,000 roubles (approximately £3,100). This is five times higher than the rates at the end of 2022. The life expectancy of those conscripted into the Russian "Storm Z" units is short. In two months of repeated attacks, out of 600 people in Anton's unit, only 40 survived.

It's precisely the words that make up the organisation's name —"Idite lasom"—that serve as the secret password that can help Russian soldiers escape the front lines. And more and more people are interested in this solution.

"Idite lasom", or how Putin's soldiers desert

- During my time there, my entire approach to life changed. I no longer have any positive feelings towards Russian statehood. This is not war but some kind of agony. Similarities only appear in the case of the First World War. They just send you to the slaughter - said former Russian soldier Anton. The account was published by the Verstka magazine (an anti-Putin medium - ed.).

The man confessed that he had deserted, and with the help of a provided passport, he escaped through Belarus and Armenia, reaching Western Europe. He used the instructions and assistance from the "Idite lasom" organisation.

Honesty of a Russian deserter. "We are orcs"

The deserter claims that in April, he was still involved in defending the Russian Belgorod region from the raids of the Legion Free Russia unit fighting on the Ukrainian side. By then, his unit was already a collection of stragglers. This was the result of the bloody Russian offensive near the Ukrainian town of Kupiansk.

- The losses were just insane, I lost count. In a two-mile area, which was eventually returned to the Ukrainians, 5-6 companies perished - he recounts. He talks about the atrocities, the drunkenness of commanders, and the senseless sending of hundreds of people to their deaths. - We really are d*** orcs - he concludes.

He plans to remain in Europe and seek political asylum. He assures journalists that he has the right to seek protection as "a person who refused to participate in the war crimes" of the Russian army.

The organisation "Idźcie lasem" helps Russian soldiers to desert. In the photo, a poster hung on the wall, which depicts a QR code directing to a page with advice for deserters.
The organisation "Idźcie lasem" helps Russian soldiers to desert. In the photo, a poster hung on the wall, which depicts a QR code directing to a page with advice for deserters.© Telegram | Idźcie Lasem

Two words in Russian. Hundreds of desertions in the army

The "Idite lasom" organisation has been operating since the autumn of 2022, providing advice through anonymous accounts on the social media platform Telegram. According to "Idite lasom", only in June this year, they provided consultations to 97 Russian soldiers planning to desert from Putin's army. In 12 cases, the organisation helped them escape. Nine people received assistance in crossing the border illegally. 129 fled Russia using a route designed for legal border crossing.

A total of 2,086 soldiers expressed their desire to leave their posts. The "Idite lasom" organisation managed to evacuate one Russian with access to classified materials from the country.

At the beginning of the text, the soldier mentioned that Anton had watched a journalistic report about "Idite lasom" on his phone during a break from the fighting on the front. He confided that after the first bloody assaults, everyone in his unit was thinking about how to escape. However, they were being watched.

"They are brutally kept in check"

- The Russians show a tendency to desert, especially now when the losses from their offensive are enormous. It's important to understand that these people are afraid of everything and everyone, as they are brutally kept in check - comments Gen. Waldemar Skrzypczak, former commander of Poland's Land Forces and commentator on the war in Ukraine.

- The West does not appreciate and treat the operations aimed at helping deserters as a niche topic. If efforts were more active in this direction, it could significantly strike Putin's army - believes the Polish military officer.

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