Russians are calling up the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense asking how to surrender, Ukraine says

Russians are calling up the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense asking how to surrender, Ukraine says
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with a soldier in newly liberated Izyum, published on Zelenskyy's Telegram on September 14 2022Office of the President of Ukraine/Telegram
  • A hotline set up to allow Russian soldiers to surrender is already getting calls, Ukraine claims.
  • Ukraine says its "I Want to Live" hotline guarantees confidentiality and humane treatment.

Russian men drafted to war by President Vladimir Putin's recent mobilization announcement are using a Ukrainian hotline to ask how they can give themselves up, according to Ukraine's Ministry of Defense.

Andrii Yusov, a spokesperson for the department, said during a televised briefing on Monday that there had been a strong response to the "I Want to Live" hotline, according to the Ukrainian newspaper Ukrainska Pravda.

The hotline was announced by Ukraine's Ministry of Defense on September 19, two days before Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the mobilization of reservists to the battlefield.

Yusov said the hotline has received "a lot of calls" from recently drafted Russians, and even some who haven't yet been mobilized, per the newspaper.

Yusov added, per the paper: "They're calling and asking 'What should I do if I get called up? What do I have to do, what's the right way to surrender?'"


Yusov's comments have not been independently verified.

But Putin's announcement sparked protests nationwide and has prompted some Russians to take desperate measures to be called up.

Putin had earlier promised that he would not take this step, which brings the reality of the war to Russians accustomed to civilian life.

Flights to several countries sold out after the announcement, and according to The Guardian, some are paying up to £27,000 for private jets out of Russia. Satellite images also showed traffic at Russia's borders from people trying to leave the country.

A Telegram channel for the hotline has also gathered nearly 14,000 subscribers in the 10 days since it was launched.


One post by the hotline said it had also received calls from Russia-occupied Crimea, and that the hotline is also for Ukrainians in occupied parts of the country who Russia has forced into serving in the war.

The project is "intended both for Russians who chose life instead of death for the unknown ideals of the 'Russian world' and for all others who have become victims of Putin's military machine,'" the post read.

The hotline echoes Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's assurances that surrendered soldiers will be treated according to international humanitarian law.

In an address on Sunday — in which he switched to speaking in Russian — Zelenskyy added that Russian troops will also be allowed to surrender confidentially, without the obligation to return to Russia in a prisoner exchange, Radio Free Europe reported.

"It is better not to take a conscription letter than to die in a foreign land as a war criminal," Zelenskyy said, per the outlet.


On Saturday, Putin toughened Russia's penalties for deserters and for those who refuse to fight, the outlet reported.