Ukraine, on ‘La Ragione’ the Russian lieutenant who refused to kill the Ukrainians

“I, Senior Lieutenant Dmitry Vasilets, am a serviceman of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. I would like to draw attention to the fact that I am also a human being and a citizen.” Thus begins the report of the Russian soldier in Ukraine published by ‘La Ragione’. Sent to Ukraine last February, his superiors had told him that he would only take part in training maneuvers. Shocked after realizing his country had launched an invasion, he waited five months before getting a 15-day permit. Until then he hasn’t killed anyone, but he began to wonder about the future and then decided to refuse to fight the Ukrainians, reconstructs Maurizio Delli Santi, a member of the International Law Association.

Dmitry Vasilets lost his mother when he was three years old and lost his father ten years later. “When he was alive – he says – he taught me to do good and help others. He was really a model for me. We had our own house with a garden and farm animals. Sometimes I went around with my friends and he he would show up at the market with a bag of watermelons: “Come and bring a surprise for everyone!” He has given me so much and I am really grateful to him”. His father was a policeman and Dmitry himself chose the path of the military academy, from which he graduated cum laude, thus being able to choose Pechenga, north of the Murmansk region, as his place of service. In four years he has done his duty without incurring a single rebuke. His fellow soldiers still remember him as a person who “executed any order without delay”, always putting service above personal needs.

In the first months of the war Dmitry fears he will die, but in May something changes: Maxim Belanchik and Aldar Soktoev, his close friends, are killed. He stops thinking about himself and starts not wearing his bulletproof vest. In the 15 days of his first leave, he visits the graves of deceased friends and meets their families. In August he signs a report declaring his refusal to return to the combat zone. At that time, the act was reprehensible only with the “dishonorable” discharge from the army. In the meantime, the law that no longer allows leave “on demand” is passed, for which he is forced to return to the front. On September 28, Dmitry reiterated his refusal in a new report, but eight days earlier the Duma passed another law criminalizing the refusal to obey military orders. For this reason he now faces charges of disobedience before a military tribunal, with the prospect of ending up in a penal colony for at least three years.

Here are his words collected by the independent Russian-language sites “Meduza” and “Novaya Gazeta”: “There is no point in killing people. It will do no good, it will only multiply the suffering and destruction, making the situation worse. We should fight the anger inside us, instead of the enemy. I had a choice and I made it. It is better to go to prison than to betray yourself and your humanity. I would not be able to tell myself “I was just following orders” because it would not justify anything . My soul is in my hands”. Honors to Lieutenant Dmitry Vasilets.