More than 25,000 Russian citizens, predominantly soldiers, have reached out to the Ukrainian initiative "I want to live" in its first year of existence, said the spokesperson of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry (GUR), Andriy Yusov.
According to Yusov, the government initiative "I want to live", created by the Coordinating Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War (POWs), has received nearly 25,000 applications from Russians in almost a year. These are not just inquiries, but actual applications for surrender to Ukraine. Overall, the "I want to live" project's online services received 46 million visits in a year, 42 million of which came from within Russia.
Yusov said that there is significant interest from Russians and the level of activity is inconsistent, with occasional surges. "Recently, after the successful 'Sinitza' operation, where a pilot defected to Ukraine, there was another surge in activity and applications. But overall, the numbers are steadily increasing," Yusov said.
Currently, over a thousand applications are being processed, meaning preparations are underway for future operations to transfer and accommodate individuals from the front line to Ukraine's territory.
Yusov pointed out that many Russians, who reach out, express sentiments such as, "I do not want to kill. I do not want to be a murderer or a war criminal. I have relatives in Ukraine, our grandfathers did not fight for this."
"There is a certain number of normal people in Russia who are seeking a way out of this situation. They are not necessarily fierce opposition activists who have always been against Putin. No, they are ordinary citizens who say, 'We were mistaken, our entire family has voted for "United Russia" all our lives, but today we realized that we have been betrayed and used as cannon fodder'," said the GUR spokesperson.
Furthermore, Yusov added that from the moment of receiving the draft notice or even before that, as well as during the entire period (training and direct participation in combat actions), it is possible to contact Ukraine’s "I Want to Live" service through a hotline. But the sooner, the better, emphasized, he emphasized.