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Published: Today 00.48
Updated: Less than 20 minutes ago
Russian soldiers who died or were seriously injured in the fighting in Ukraine were brought to Belarus.
Bodies are secretly moved at night, says Radio Free Europe.
Witnesses in the city of Gomel now tell of horrific scenes.
– There are so many wounded Russians. It is pure horror. They are terribly disfigured, says one person.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine did not go according to Putin’s plans. The offensive stalled in many places and there was a stiffer resistance than the Russian leadership expected.
On Saturday, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said 14,400 Russian soldiers had died in the fighting so far.
In a speech last night, President Zelensky compared the audience at Putin’s demonstration at a football stadium in Moscow on Friday with the number of soldiers who took part in the Russian invasion.
He said it was the same number of people, around 195,000 people.
– Imagine if there were 14,000 corpses and tens of thousands of wounded and maimed in the arena. There are already so many Russian casualties in this invasion, Zelensky said.
– This is the price of war. In just over three weeks. The war must end.
fullscreenA Russian tank following an attack by Ukrainian forces. According to Ukraine, more than 12,000 Russian soldiers died in the war. To date. Photo: Vadim Ghirda / AP
Loaded on secret death marches
There is great uncertainty about the death toll during the invasion and the figures need to be interpreted with caution. Both sides have reason to want to exaggerate their successes and mitigate their losses.
The United States has estimated the Russian death toll at around 7,000. Russia has not commented on its losses in a couple of weeks. The last figure was therefore 498 dead.
Putin described the “special operation” in Ukraine as a success and that “Russia is united”. But information from Belarus seems to show that the situation is much more desperate than the Kremlin wants to give the impression.
FULL SCREEN GRAPHICS: The red areas on the map show where the Russian army is currently occupying Ukraine. The points show important events. Photo: Paul Wallander
There have been reports in the past that Russia has secretly taken its dead and wounded through a secure corridor to cities near the Ukrainian border in Belarus.
Witnesses described for Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE / RL)describing his mission to spread democratic values and uncensored news in countries without a free press, killing people loaded on trains in the city of Mazyr.
– There were an incredible number of bodies. People at Mazyr station were shocked by the number of bodies loaded onto the train, an eyewitness told RFE / RL.
He moves dead at night
Since information has been spread around the world and transport footage has been posted on social media, security around Russian covert operations has been further increased.
Hospitals and transport of the dead are now under close surveillance by the police and security services. Hospital staff have been told they will lose their jobs and risk prosecution if they say anything in public about dead soldiers and Russian military adversity.
– Ever since someone filmed a video of corpses being loaded onto trains and posted it on the internet, he has started loading corpses at night so as not to attract attention, a doctor tells Mazur to RFE / RL.
More and more people are witnessing the horror scenes taking place in Belarusian cities when morgues, hospitals and temporary field hospitals are filled with Russian soldiers being taken from Ukraine on helicopters, buses and trucks.
full screen In films broadcast on social media, Russian soldiers can be seen loading something onto trains from bus ambulances with the windows covered. According to witnesses, dead and wounded Russian soldiers were kidnapped. Photo: screenshot
Some of the deadliest fighting took place at the border near Gomel, near the Russian border in Kharkiv and Sumy to the east and around southern port cities like Mariupol and Kherson, writes RFE / RL.
According to an employee of a hospital in Gomel, by 13 March more than 2,500 dead Russian soldiers had been loaded onto trains or planes from the city for further transport to Russia.
The person, like others the RFE / RL spoke to, did not dare to say his name for fear of reprisals by the Russian and Belarusian security services.
Gomel in southeastern Belarus borders Ukraine to the south and Russia to the east and is the country’s second largest city with a developed trade and transport network.
After the invasion, the city hospital cleaned entire wards in order to receive and care for the seriously wounded Russian soldiers. Among other things, an oncology clinic will be converted into an emergency room where 400 patients are cared for.
full screenAn explosion and dark smoke rises from several buildings in Mariupol. The image is taken from a video shot on Monday. Photo: Azov Battalion via AP / TLelskärm Satellite images reveal the devastation of Mariupol. On the left the ruins after the Russian air raid on the theater. To the right, you can see smoke rising from burning apartment buildings after another air raid in the eastern part of the city. Photo: Maxar Technologies and Planet Labs PBC via AP / TT
“It’s pure horror”
Already at the beginning of March, one of the hospitals in Gomel began discharging civilian patients to accommodate all the soldiers.
– There are so many wounded Russians. It is pure horror. They are terribly disfigured. It’s impossible to hear their moans being heard throughout the hospital, says a local who was treated in the hospital to RFE / RL.
According to a doctor, the residents of Gomel are concerned about the exhaustion of ordinary medicines.
– People are panicking. So far we can provide them with medical assistance and there are medicines. But it’s not clear what it will be like after, the doctor says.
full screen In films posted on social media, Russian ambulances can be seen with their windows covered.
Hanna Krasulina, spokesperson for Belarusian opposition leader in exile Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, told Ukrainian television in early March that dead Russian and Chechen soldiers had been secretly taken across the border.
– People in Chechnya and Russia must be told that the morgues in southern Belarus are already full of the corpses of their soldiers. It is important that they know. We cannot let Russian propaganda silence him, he said.
Difficult for relatives
For many Russian families whose relatives died during the invasion, it was very difficult because, according to the Moscow regime, they are not at war but are carrying out a “special operation” which is going according to plan.
Many families are said to have been reached by the news that their children have died, but that the bodies will not be brought to Russia until the “operation” is completed. writes The Guardian.
Published: March 20, 2022 at 00.48