Ukrainian military intelligence recently published audio of an alleged intercepted phone call in which a Russian soldier admits his unit stages videos so military authorities think they are achieving greater battlefield success.
On its Telegram channel on Sunday, Ukraine’s military intelligence directorate (GUR) posted the audio of what it said was a phone call between a soldier who was believed to be talking from the front lines in Ukraine and his wife. Newsweek could not independently verify the audio or the claims made by the speaker.
GUR frequently posts audio of what it says are intercepted communications involving Russia’s forces. The calls typically serve as examples of low morale among Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s troops or paint Kremlin officials in a bad light. Last month, GUR shared audio of what is said was a Russian soldier admitting his country was behind June’s Kakhovka Dam explosion, which Putin had previously denied.
According to an English translation by the Kyiv Post of the recently spread audio, the soldier described being encouraged to fake videos to impress his superiors.
The call begins with the soldier’s wife talking about a video she saw on Kremlin-run state media of Russian forces reclaiming control of Robotyne, a village in Zaporizhzhia Oblast that Ukraine liberated last month. The soldier says he doesn’t believe what’s reported in the video and insinuates it’s fake like videos that he’s staged of battlefield scenes.
“I’ve also recorded bulls*** on the camera on my phone, showing that ‘we’re fighting f****** great, we hold the f****** defense so bravely,’ but it’s a play,” the soldier said, according to the Kyiv Post.
The Russian troop then reportedly gave an example of a video he made after a commander ordered him to stage scenes and use a popular 2005 Russian war film named The 9th Company as inspiration.
“I dressed everyone up, put them in positions, and I went f****** through the trenches, shouting how ‘f****** incredibly’ they all fought,” the soldier told his wife. “All the videos were sent somewhere up [to his superiors].”
Newsweek reached out to the Russian Ministry of Defense via email for comment.
Moscow’s military has previously been accused of faking video scenes. In August, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) think tank reported a Russian military blogger claimed his country’s military officials were instructing servicemen to “report false successes on their missions to please their commanders.”
According to the ISW, the blogger wrote soldiers had filmed their helicopter and artillery units “firing on the same, previously damaged Western-provided armored fighting vehicle from different angles and on different days and reported them as separate kills at least three times.”