A Ukrainian army captain speaks from the ‘catacombs’ of the Mariupol steel mine surrounded by Russians
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A member of Ukraine’s National Guard believed to be in the “surrounded” Mariupol steel mines received a message on Monday via “Fox & Friends”.
“Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade said that, thanks in part to other Fox News staffers and an interpreter, Captain Bogdan Krotevich was able to report on the current situation in the beleaguered city to the eastern end of Ukraine.
Krotevich, Kilmeade said, is among 100 Ukrainian civilians trapped in the maze of mineshafts beneath the city.
In Mariupol and nearby Kherson, Krotevich said Russian soldiers changed Russian-language road signs. Some of the captured soldiers, he added, expressed fear that Vladimir Putin would kill them if they refused to fight.
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“I find it surreal because Kherson is a pro-Ukrainian city at its core. We saw protests with civilians marching carrying Ukrainian flags. They were driving the occupiers out of their cities,” Krotevich said in a translated response.
“However, the language of weapons exists. Unfortunately, the Russians have no moral principles, so they speak to civilians using the language of violence and weapons.”
Krotevich claimed that 2,500 Russian soldiers were killed in the area, but Ukrainians were still trying to hold on to their communities and their lives, as many other civilians were also murdered.
He suggested that senior Russian officers were allowed to kill their own troops if they did not want to fight.
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“We have a lot of interceptions when commanders were telling their superiors that soldiers don’t want to fight,” he said.
“Then the seniors gave permission to kill those who didn’t want to in order to motivate others to be cannon fodder. When asked why they came to Ukrainian soil, the Russians just say, of course, that ‘they didn’t know where they were going, why this war is happening.
“We still have prisoners of war that we offer to exchange, but the Russian Federation is not interested in exchanging them.”
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Some Russian prisoners of war have indeed expressed their fear of the Kremlin.
“They were worried,” co-host Ainsley Earhardt observed. “They said Putin would kill us if we didn’t fight.”
According to war historian Adam Makos, Krotevich joined the army in 2014 – the year Russian separatist forces occupied his Crimean hometown of Simferopol.
He enlisted in the National Guard’s Azov Regiment and became his regiment’s chief of staff within eight years, facing constant fighting during that time.
Krotevich’s regiment also witnessed the shelling of the city’s maternity ward, Makos said. As its name suggests, the group is stationed near the Sea of Azov – and Krotevich’s unit has been surrounded for more than two months as the Russians bombard Mariupol. It is said to be the last defense brigade in the city.
Author and war historian Adam Mako contributed to this report.