This Week From Reveal: Escaping Putin’s War Machine

Russian soldiers ride through Aleppo, 2017Christian Werner

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.Are Russian military defectors spies? War criminals? Or heroes? That’s one of the central questions of this week’s episode of Reveal, which follows the dramatic journey of an officer who deserted the Russian army, fled the country, and now lives in exile.

This week, Associated Press reporter Erika Kinetz examines the costs of people who leave Russia’s military with the help of Idite Lesom, an antiwar group whose name translates roughly to, “Get Lost.” As Russia’s war on Ukraine enters its third year, the group has helped thousands of people desert military service or evade it altogether.
For the man at the center of the episode, sacrifices are constant. “You can only leave wounded or dead,” another former military Russian officer tells Kinetz. “No one wants to leave dead.” He decides his best option is to ask a comrade to shoot him in the leg.
Former soldiers like him are waiting for a welcome from western nations that hasn’t come. This week, in partnership with the Associated Press, we’ll hear about why these defectors are not finding sanctuary in the West, and how staggering casualty rates may affect the future of the war. We’ll also meet a Ukrainian man on a quest to give fallen soldiers—Russian and Ukrainian alike—a final resting place. Don’t miss this gripping story on this week’s episode of Reveal, available wherever you get your podcasts.