Russian investigative news outlet iStories has published an apparent war crimes confession from a soldier stationed on the outskirts of Kyiv during the early weeks of the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.
iStories’ reporters identified four Russian servicemen suspected of robberies, looting and murder of civilians in the village of Andriivka by using photos the soldiers took on a phone stolen from a local resident. Local residents interviewed by iStories also recognized the men and linked their identities to multiple instances of looting and murder.
Located about 60 kilometers west of the Ukrainian capital, Andriivka was occupied by Russian forces in the first days of the invasion in February.
At least 40 of Andriivka's roughly 1,000 residents were killed during the Russian occupation of the town that lasted until April, according to a report by the BBC.
The four men suspected of war crimes were identified as Daniil Frolkin, Dmitriy Danilov, Ruslan Glotov and Ivan Shepelenko of the 64th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade.
iStories contacted Frolkin and Danilov, both 21, by phone. While both soldiers initially denied their involvement in the murders of civilians in Andriivka, Frolkin — who was then located at a temporary deployment center in Russia’s Belgorod region — later called the reporters back.
“I…Frolkin Daniil Andreevich, confess to all the crimes that I committed in Andriivka. [I confess] to shooting civilians, robbing civilians, confiscating their phones and [confess] that our command does not give a f*** about our fighters, about the entirety of the infantry that fights on the front line,” Frolkin told reporters in a video call over a messaging platform.
Frolkin confessed to the murder of a male resident of Andriivka whom iStories identified as 47-year-old Ruslan Yaremchuk.
The Russian soldier claimed Yaremchuk supplied Ukrainian forces with location coordinates of Russian military columns stationed in the area and even admitted it to Frolkin before his death.
“I killed one. But I wanted to save as many people [as I could],” said Frolkin.
Frolkin said he decided to confess in order to save other fellow soldiers who are being sent to Ukraine for “slaughter.”
He also called for the “punishment” of several high-ranking military officials, including Colonel Azatbek Omurbekov, head of the 64th Brigade, whom he said was responsible for leading Russian soldiers “to death.”
“I understand that I will be jailed for all this information,” Frolkin is seen telling the iStories team in a video published by the outlet.
“[I will be jailed] not for what I did in Ukraine, but for all the information I will give you. I just want to confess to everything and explain what is happening in our country. I think that it would be better if the war never started.”