Former Wagner commander says he is sorry for fighting in Ukraine By Reuters
© Reuters. Andrei Medvedev, a previous commander of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group poses for a photograph during an job interview in Oslo, Norway February 1, 2023. REUTERS/Janis Laizans
By Nerijus Adomaitis, Janis Laizans and Gwladys Fouche
OSLO (Reuters) – A former commander of Russia’s Wagner mercenary team who fled to Norway told Reuters he wanted to apologise for preventing in Ukraine and was speaking out to convey the perpetrators of crimes to justice.
Andrei Medvedev, who crossed the Russian-Norwegian border on Jan. 13, said he witnessed the killing and mistreatment by Wagner of Russian convicts taken to Ukraine to battle for the team.
“Lots of take into account me to be a scoundrel, a felony, a assassin,” Medvedev, 26, said in an interview. “Initially of all, consistently, and once more, I would like to apologise, and while I will not know how it would be gained, I want to say I’m sorry.
“Yes, I served in Wagner. There are some times (in my story) that individuals you should not like, that I joined them at all, but no person is born smart.”
Medvedev extra he had resolved to communicate out “to help to assure that perpetrators are punished in selected cases, and I will check out to make my contribution, at minimum a tiny bit”.
He cited one particular incident in which he explained he witnessed two persons who did not want to struggle being shot lifeless in entrance of recently introduced convicts who experienced been enrolled in Wagner.
Questioned about other incidents he witnessed, he claimed he could not comment on them at this phase as a Norwegian police investigation about war crimes was ongoing.
Reuters was not instantly in a position to verify his promises.
Kripos, Norway’s nationwide legal law enforcement services, which has accountability for investigating war crimes, has begun questioning Medvedev about his experiences in Ukraine.
He has a standing as a witness and is not suspected of everything apart from the illegal border crossing. Medvedev said he experienced almost nothing to disguise from the law enforcement, incorporating “I did not commit any crimes, I was just a combatant”.
The Wagner team stated Medvedev experienced worked in a “Norwegian unit” of Wagner and experienced “mistreated prisoners”.
“Be cautious, he is really unsafe,” the group said in an emailed assertion to Reuters, reiterating past responses created by its founder Yevgeny Prigozhin, a shut ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, about Medvedev.
Wagner forces have been locked in a bloody fight of attrition towards Ukrainian forces in Ukraine’s jap Donetsk region.
At Wagner, Medvedev claimed he led a squad, having orders from a platoon commander and setting up fight missions. He reported he noticed “acts of courage from both of those sides”.
Medvedev mentioned he was frightened that he could be executed by anyone on his individual aspect at any time.
“The scariest detail? To realise that there are individuals who look at on their own to be your compatriots, and who could appear and eliminate you in an instantaneous, or on someone’s orders,” he said. “Your have persons. That almost certainly was the scariest thing.”
Medvedev left Wagner at the finish of his four-month agreement, even though his superiors informed him he experienced to provide longer, he said.
Medvedev said he fled Russia final month around the Arctic border, climbing as a result of barbed-wire fences and evading a border patrol with dogs, hearing Russian guards firing shots as he ran via a forest and over the frozen river that separates the two nations.
FROM ORPHAN TO Joining WAGNER
Medvedev was born in the location of Tomsk in Siberia. He explained he was placed in an orphanage when he was close to age 12, just after the demise of his mother and the disappearance of his father.
He explained he was drafted in the Russian navy in 2014, aged 18, and served with the Ulyanovsk-centered 31st Airborne Brigade.
“That was my initially deployment in Donbas,” Medvedev included, declining to give additional aspects.
The conflict in eastern Ukraine commenced in 2014 soon after a pro-Russian president was toppled in Ukraine’s Maidan Revolution and Russia annexed Crimea, though Russian-backed separatists in the Donbas – comprised of Donetsk and Luhansk – sought to split away from Kyiv’s regulate.
Medvedev claimed he had served various jail terms, which includes a single for a theft, and when he came out of prison the final time, he made a decision to be a part of the Wagner team, in July 2022.
Medvedev claimed he hadn’t been recruited straight out of the jail, but resolved to be a part of because he realised he would very likely be mobilised in the frequent Russian armed forces in any case.
He signed a four-thirty day period agreement for a regular salary of some 250,000 roubles ($3,575). He crossed into Ukraine on July 16, he explained, and fought close to Bakhmut.
“It was fucked up. The roads to Artemovsk were littered with the corpses of our troopers,” he said, employing the Russian position name for Bakhmut. “The losses were being hefty. … I noticed several good friends die.”
A special report revealed by Reuters past 7 days identified a graveyard in southern Russia, burial website for gentlemen who were being convicts who experienced been recruited by Wagner to battle in Ukraine.
($1 = 69.9305 roubles)