Novaya Gazeta Europe talked to a deserted soldier of the Russian Armed Forces, who as a member of the Iskander brigade took part in the shelling of Ukraine in the morning of February 24, 2022, from the territory of Belarus.
The operator of the Iskander missile system served under contract in a missile unit of the Russian Armed Forces in Ulan-Ude, and they were sent to Belarus at the end of 2021. They were told that they were going to participate in Russian-Belarusian drills, but there were rumors among the soldiers that «we are going to war.» Once he was in Belarus, he didn’t participate in any drills, they set up a camp at one of the training grounds and stayed there for a month.
«In the morning of February 24, it was about 5 a.m., the first launch was made. I saw how everything was colored red at first, and the missile went up and flew somewhere to the south,» he said.
Then his changer came to him and told him that the war had started. Most of his fellow soldiers supported the war, and the destruction of Ukrainian cities was blamed on «Kyiv’s actions.» His brigade alone had about 15 launchers, from which 80-90 missiles were launched towards Ukraine during their entire stay in Belarus.
Here are a few facts about the morning of February 24, 2022, according to Belarusian Hajun:
- At 03:00 24.02, aircraft began to take off from the airfield in Vialiki Bokau village.
- At 05:50, shots, explosions and rumble of equipment were already heard in the area of the Kamaryn border checkpoint.
- The first recorded launch from the territory of Belarus against Ukraine was at 06:20 on 24.02 from the Khoiniki district. It was a ground-based missile.
- In the afternoon of 24.02, at a meeting with the military, Lukashenko said, «We are not going to make excuses here about the fact that we participate or not participate in this conflict. I say once again: our troops are not there. But if it’s necessary, if it’s necessary for Belarus and Russia, they will be there.»
At least 721 missiles were launched from the territory of Belarus against Ukraine from 24.02.2022 to October 2022.