Russian POWs captured in Ukraine prove Putin’s hybrid war

The two soldiers on duty for the Russian army captured by Ukrainians in Shchastye are part of a small group of special forces. It is the confirmation of the hybrid war that the Kremlin is fighting against Ukraine. And against the West.

He knows enough. The military captured last Saturday by Ukrainian soldiers near Shchastye, in Lugansk region, are part of the 3rd Special Purpose Brigade of GRU (Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian General Staff) based in Togliatti, southern Russia. The Ukrainians of the 92nd brigade found them wounded after a fight, during a reconnaissance mission around a power plant near Shchastye, a strategic objective. They are Sergeant Aleksandr Aleksandrov and Yevgeny Erofeev.

It is not the first time that Kiev forces captured Russian soldiers in the Donbass, and the version of Moscow has always been that they were "lost" while patrolling the border. But this time the two prisoners were taken close to friction line between the warring parties, in a combat zone. And most importantly, they talked.

Organs for sale

In a video appeared on the day after the capture, the sergeant Aleksandrov lists the names of all his comrades and explains how it works. They operate in small groups, made of 14 men. There are currently seven or eight groups. Missions last four or five days, before they return to main base in Lugansk. Their target was a bridge on the front line, to pave the way for the rebels to the power plant. Most interesting is that, according to Aleksandrov, special groups act in autonomy, without any contact with the separatists. They do not fight side by side. They are employed on precise, surgical, tactic missions.

But the testimony of the two prisoners is also interesting to see how the Russian government propaganda affects the minds of its citizens and its soldiers. “The men introduced themselves as Russian soldiers”, told The Associated Press Grigory Maksimets, a medic who attended to the men when they were delivered  to hospital in Shchastia. “They asked not to be sedated because they were afraid we would take their organs for sale”.


The version told by the POW Aleksandrov matches perfectly with the most accepted hypothesis of Russian involvement in the war in Donbass. External support, with weapons and "volunteers", in minimal doses sufficient to keep alive the fire of the conflict; special operations by fast and small groups of the armed forces, without insignia or documents, where and when needed; a stronger support only an a very few decisive occasions of the war, like in Ilovaisk and Debaltseve. It’s the famous Russian maskirovka. Part of Putin’s hybrid war.

A conflict that should never result in open warfare nor completely pacified. The coals to blow when Europe, America and NATO raise their voice. Otherwise, why repeatedly deny the presence of soldiers in the Ukraine? And why only support just enough to stop the Ukrainians, but not to determine a definitive victory? In a word, why otherwise Putin does not invade Ukraine and takes all the Donbass, like he did with Crimea?


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