Russian soldier Nikita Chibrin, 27, member of the 64th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade — the unit accused of committing war crimes in the Kyiv region in March 2022 — has fled to the West and asked for political asylum in Spain, The Guardian reports.
Chibrin spent over four months in Ukraine as part of the brigade, however, he claims that he took no part in the war crimes that his unit is accused of committing and says that he did not fire a gun even once. He adds that he is ready to testify in an international court about everything he saw in Ukraine.
“I have nothing to hide. This is a criminal war that Russia started. I want to do everything I can to make it stop,” he says.
Chibrin tells the Guardian that he fled Russia on 16 June by hiding in a truck after he had deserted from his unit. On the first day of the invasion, 24 February, he told his commanders that he was against the war. According to the soldier, he was “removed from his rank as an army mechanic after he spoke out and was then tasked with performing manual labour”.
“They threatened to jail me. In the end, my commanders decided to use me as a cleaner and a loader. I was placed away from the battlefield,” he adds.
Chibrin is from the Russian city of Yakutsk. He says that he joined the army in summer 2021 due to financial difficulties. He did not think that he would have to fight in a war, he explains. According to Chibrin, he ended up in Ukraine on the first day of the invasion, crossing through the Belarussian border. He, just like many other soldiers, was not told that he would be going to war, Chibrin emphasises.
His unit was deployed to the village of Lypivka, 30 miles west of Kyiv, near the city of Bucha. He claims that he did not witness any war crimes being committed, however, he heard talk about murders and rapes, while looting was a normal practice. “They looted everything there was. Washing machines, electronics, everything,” he says.
The Guardian adds that it has not been able to “verify all the details of Chibrin’s story independently”, however, Chibrin has provided documents and photos proving that he was a member of the 64th Brigade stationed on Ukraine’s territory.
Chibrin is the second prominent Russian soldier who fled the country after participating in the invasion, The Guardian notes. Back in August, the newspaper interviewed Pavel Filatyev, a former paratrooper who had fled Russia after writing the book ZOV. In the book, he writes about what happened to him during the war.