A Ukrainian soldier captured by Russian forces says they played with him ‘the way a cat plays with a mouse,’ torturing him for fun instead of for information

  • A Ukrainian soldier captured by Wagner says they tortured him “the way a cat plays with a mouse.”
  • The soldier told The Washington Post about being a prisoner of war during the battle of Bakhmut.
  • He sustained serious injuries, and says Wagner sloppily amputated his arms above the elbows.

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A Ukrainian soldier was captured by Russian forces — and rather than interrogating him for information, he said they tortured him for fun, like “the way a cat plays with a mouse,” he told The Washington Post

Ilia Mykhalchuk, a 36-year-old soldier from the 67th Mechanized Brigade, told The Post that was captured while fighting in Bakhmut earlier this year and then spent 46 days as a prisoner of the Wagner Group before a swap. While captive, Mykhalchuk told The Post he noticed he wasn’t being interrogated for battlefield information or intelligence like higher-ranking prisoners — instead, he was being tortured psychologically. 

“They tried to make us believe that we couldn’t trust each other, and that it was a kill-or-be-killed situation,” Mykhalchuk told The Post. “They were just playing with us, the way a cat plays with a mouse — when he catches it before he kills it.”

Mykhalchuk also said the Wagner Group crudely amputated both his arms above the elbow after they were severely damaged in battle, not stitching the skin before bandaging the sites. 

Before the group’s failed mutiny against Russian military leadership in June, Wagner’s battlefield forces in Ukraine were made up of mercenaries, convicted killers, and other former prisoners serving for reduced jail time.

The group, financed by Yevgeny Prigozhin, was previously accused of perpetrating hundreds of violent attacks and killings against African civilians.  

Since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, there have been various reports of Russian forces committing war crimes against both civilians and soldiers.

In May 2023, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin, alleging he is responsible specifically for the “unlawful deportation” and “unlawful transfer” of Ukrainians, specifically children, “from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.”

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