Irregular Warfare Lesson Learned from War in Ukraine
2024 Radio Free Ukraine’s Jedburgh Team 2.11.2024

Executive Summary (BLUF): Analysis of interview with Russian Prisoner of War in Ukraine, Major Timur Abdurakhmanov Commander of the “Alga” Battalion of the 72nd OMSBR of the Russian Federation from Dagestan, who was taken prisoner-of-war POW by the 3rd Assault Brigade during the liberation of Andriivka

POW Major Timur Abdurakhmanov’s interview offers valuable insights into the attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs of Russian military personnel engaged in the conflict in Ukraine. His experiences highlight the complex interplay between loyalty to country, adherence to orders, and ethical considerations on the battlefield. Key lessons learned include the importance of humane treatment of prisoners, the necessity of maintaining personal integrity in the face of moral dilemmas, and the impact of financial motivations on soldiers’ decisions to engage in warfare. Understanding these insights is critical for shaping military strategies, humanitarian efforts, and diplomatic initiatives aimed at resolving conflicts and promoting peace in contested regions.

The Alga Battalion is a volunteer battalion from the Republic of Tatarstan (a federal subject of the Russian Federation). In March 2023, some social media users claimed that the battalion was neutralized in Ukraine, but Alga’s commander said that those claims were causing tensions and panic.

He countered that there are always “military and civilian” casualties during wars, and called  those Russian social media users who talked about his battalion’s losses “traitors” and “deserters”.

The recruitment of the brigade from volunteers was announced by local authorities in early August 2022, as part of the drive to create the 3rd Army Corps from volunteers to reinforce Russian troops fighting in the Russian invasion of UkrainePenza Oblast governor Oleg Melnichenko announced the recruitment of 60 volunteers from his region on 5 August, and disclosed that the formation of the brigade would take place at Totskoye.[1] The brigade includes the Alga (Russian: «Алга», Tatar: “Алга”) battalion, formed from Volga Tatars in Tatarstan, and the Molot (Russian: «Молот»), lit. ’hammer’) battalion from Perm Krai.

POW Major Timur Abdurakhmanov

Report Introduction:

The interview with POW Major Timur Abdurakhmanov, a Russian commander captured by Ukrainian forces, provides valuable insights into the attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs of military personnel involved in the conflict in Ukraine. This report analyzes the interview from a lesson learned perspective, identifying key takeaways and implications for future military operations, humanitarian efforts, and diplomatic initiatives.

Analysis of Key Insights:

1. Attitudes Towards Captivity and Treatment of Prisoners:

   – Abdurakhmanov’s recounting of his experiences in captivity underscores the importance of humane treatment of prisoners in accordance with international laws and norms.

   – His observations regarding the treatment of wounded and dead soldiers highlight the significance of honoring fallen comrades and retrieving bodies irrespective of nationality or affiliation.

   – Lesson Learned: Maintaining humane treatment of prisoners and respecting the dignity of fallen soldiers is essential for upholding moral standards and fostering goodwill in conflict zones.

2. Ethical Considerations and Loyalty to Country:

   – Abdurakhmanov’s assertions regarding his commitment to personal integrity and ethical principles reflect the complex interplay between military duty, loyalty to country, and adherence to moral standards.

   – His willingness to disobey orders that contravene ethical norms underscores the importance of individual agency and accountability in mitigating harm during wartime.

   – Lesson Learned: Balancing loyalty to country with ethical considerations is crucial for navigating moral dilemmas and upholding integrity on the battlefield.

3. Financial Motivations and Recruitment Strategies:

   – Abdurakhmanov’s insights into the financial motivations driving some soldiers to engage in warfare highlight the role of economic incentives in recruitment and retention within military ranks.

   – His acknowledgment of the disparity in economic opportunities between regions underscores the influence of socioeconomic factors on individuals’ decisions to participate in armed conflict.

   – Lesson Learned: Addressing underlying socioeconomic disparities and providing alternative livelihood opportunities can help mitigate the allure of financial incentives for engaging in warfare.


Russian POW Major Timur Abdurakhmanov’s interview provides valuable lessons for understanding (N=1 informed expert anecdote) the attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs of Russian military personnel involved in the conflict in Ukraine. By examining his experiences through a lesson learned lens, key insights emerge regarding the importance of humane treatment of prisoners, the necessity of maintaining personal integrity in the face of moral dilemmas, and the impact of financial motivations on soldiers’ decisions to engage in warfare. These insights are critical for shaping future military strategies, humanitarian efforts, and diplomatic initiatives aimed at resolving conflicts and promoting peace in contested regions.

Further Dive into Insights

On Ukrainian Captivity:

– The Russian commander discusses the various conversations among the occupiers regarding Ukrainian captivity, acknowledging that there are differing opinions. Some believe Ukrainians treat prisoners humanely, while others fear torture.

– There’s a recognition that the treatment of POWs varies and may depend on individual experiences and attitudes.

– The commander does not discuss crimes committed by the Russian military, such as those in Bucha and Mariupol, indicating a possible avoidance or denial of such discussions within their unit.

On Underestimating the Enemy:

– The Russian commander warns against underestimating the opponent, emphasizing the importance of understanding differing approaches to combat tasks.

– He notes differences between Russian and Ukrainian military approaches, mentioning the absence of a direct link between soldiers and higher command in Ukrainian units, which he considers a disadvantage for the Russians.

On Motivations and Attitudes:

– When asked about motivations for fighting, the commander mentions fear of captivity, financial incentives, and ideological beliefs, suggesting a complex mix of factors driving soldiers.

– He shares insights from conversations with fellow soldiers on leave, indicating varying levels of support for the war effort and suggesting a reluctance among some to fight unless directly attacked.

On National Identity and Separatism:

– The commander reflects on his own identity as a Dagestani within the Russian Federation, expressing a sense of loyalty to both Dagestan and Russia.

– He acknowledges historical figures like Imam Shamil, who fought against the Russian Empire for Dagestani independence, but indicates a lack of consideration for modern separatism.

– Economic considerations and concerns about survival without Russian support appear to outweigh any desires for independence.

On Attitudes Towards Other Groups:

– The commander expresses a pragmatic attitude towards Chechen fighters, suggesting they may be motivated by financial incentives or ideological convictions rather than loyalty to the Russian cause.

On Financial Motivation:

– The commander highlights financial incentives as a significant factor motivating fighters from Dagestan, citing the lack of opportunities for comparable earnings within the region.

On Casualty Compensation:

– He confirms the payment of funeral benefits to the families of fallen soldiers, acknowledging the financial support provided as a potential motivator for risking one’s life in combat.

On the Treatment of Wounded and Dead:

– The Russian commander expresses dismay over the abandonment of fallen soldiers, emphasizing the importance of retrieving all bodies, regardless of nationality, as a matter of honor and respect.

– He criticizes the mercenary nature of groups like “Wagner,” highlighting their sole motivation as financial gain rather than duty or honor.

– The commander recounts personal experiences defending against attacks by mercenaries, suggesting a lack of care for their own soldiers’ lives and reckless tactics.

On Prigozhin and Mutiny:

– The commander indicates limited knowledge of the Prigozhin mutiny and suggests a reluctance to engage with political events or news.

– He expresses neutrality regarding Prigozhin’s actions, indicating a lack of concern for political power struggles within Russia.

On Loyalty and Democracy:

– The commander asserts his loyalty to Russia but displays a pragmatic acceptance of the political status quo, acknowledging stability over democratic principles.

– He downplays concerns about freedom of speech and political dissent, asserting that he feels free to express himself within the confines of the system.

On War and Ethics:

– While expressing opposition to war and its consequences, the commander acknowledges the complexity of military duty and the necessity of following orders, tempered by a commitment to moral principles.

– He emphasizes personal responsibility and accountability, stating a willingness to disobey orders that violate ethical norms, particularly those targeting civilians.

On Family and Personal Values:

– The commander maintains a separation between his military duties and his family life, forbidding his family from involvement in his work.

– He attempts to humorously describe his commitment to both his military duties and his family, illustrating a sense of duty and affection.

On Captivity and Orders:

– The commander offers practical advice to his soldiers regarding captivity, urging them to consider their own circumstances and emphasizing the importance of humane treatment.

– He underscores the primacy of ethical considerations over blind obedience, stating a willingness to disobey orders that contravene moral principles, particularly those that target civilians.


The interview with Major Timur Abdurakhmanov provides valuable insights into the attitudes, motivations, and ethical considerations of a Russian military commander operating in Ukraine. Abdurakhmanov’s remarks reveal a complex blend of loyalty to his country, pragmatism in the face of political realities, and a strong commitment to ethical principles and personal honor. His perspectives shed light on the diverse motivations driving soldiers in conflict, the challenges of navigating moral dilemmas in wartime, and the importance of maintaining a sense of humanity amidst the chaos of battle. These insights can inform future military strategies, humanitarian efforts, and diplomatic initiatives aimed at resolving conflicts and promoting peace in contested regions.

Transcript of Interview, translation provided by 3rd Assault Brigade from video.   

This analysis is from a video recorded and published with the full consent, according to Ukrainians in 3rd Assault Brigade, of the interview of Russian POW Major Timur Abdurakhmanov, the Commander of the “Alga” Battalion of the 72nd OMSBR of the Russian Federation, who was taken prisoner-of-war POW by the 3rd Assault Brigade during the liberation of Andriivka.

I’m happy that I became a part of this history.

“We have a wounded Major…Major of what?…We have a wounded POW…Major of what? Come on. Faster. Faster. Faster. Pull him back…I’m…My rank is Major Timur Abdurakhmanov.” From a video released on multiple social media by Ukrainians of the capture of the wounded POW.

The story of a Russin Prisoner of War in Ukraine and how he got Captured

I’m from Dagestan. I’m a hereditary military man. My father was a military officer. I followed in his footsteps.

I was heavily wounded. But I remember that I moved out for the village of Andriivka. From my command-observation point. To clarify the situation. And to make a decision.

And I didn’t make it there. Didn’t make it there a bit. Received a heavy wound. I couldn’t move anymore. Well, I could move out of my last strength. I thought our forces were there. I could hear voices. I thought those were our guys. Well, at the outskirts of Andriivka. I couldn’t imagine that units of the Third Assault Brigade had already entered there.

It was only then that I heard voices. I moved there as far as I could. Fell down. I was already beginning to choke and lose consciousness.

So, the guys pulled me out. I thought they were friendlies. They called out, “Who are you?” I mean, “What unit?” I told them that I’m with the 72nd. Battalion commander of the 72nd brigade. Then, after some time, I realized that it was the Third Assault Brigade that picked me up.

I would not have surrendered if I had not been wounded

But, for example, your brigade’s head of reconnaissance was killed. It’s just that it’s a rare thing for a head of brigade reconnaissance to go in personally.

I’m unaware of that, to be honest. Some blow themselves up with a grenade. There were those who walked out with their hands up. Trying to save their life. I don’t condemn either ones or the others.

Well, if I’m being honest, if I had known that units of the Third Assault Brigade would pick me up, I would not have gone out there. I wouldn’t surrender myself.

It depends on the kind of person. On the idea they came with. On the motivation they came for the SMO  with. You know. It depends on that.

Perhaps, some are afraid of captivity worse than death. Perhaps. Political instructors… Well, our political officers…

Yes, they do their work. Generally, they do their work on covering some big events that happened somewhere. About the successes of our units. Sometimes, about the failures of our units and the successes on your part. That is, it is all covered. Sometimes, heroic examples are given.

Like, when you tell him, “Surrender yourself!” And he does not surrender and, instead, blows himself up with a grenade. That is, again, I’m telling you that it depends on the person. On the person themselves.

I understand. But there is this point that they tell you that Ukrainians will torture you in captivity. That captivity is terrible.

About conversations among the occupiers about Ukrainian captivity

Well, the talks… They go on. There are all sorts of talks. Believe me. Whether we like it or not, all sorts of talks are going on. Yes. And the ones like you’ve mentioned have place too. Some say it’s the other way around. That no, they (Ukrainians) treat you in a normal, human way. I mean, a POW is treated humanely.

That (in Ukrainian captivity) they feed you and provide medical care, and so on. That is, there is no such thing as physical tortures or moral tortures.

Do you discuss the situation about the crimes of your military, such as those in Bucha and Mariupol? As reported in Ukrainian and Western media. I mean, the attitude towards the civilian population. Or do they present it to you somehow differently? Or you don’t talk about this at all?

No, we don’t talk about that, in fact. Well, they don’t talk about that in my unit. We don’t even have time for this. Understand me. Once we had entered Andriivka, we were there all the time. There was no time to even talk about anything, basically. Because we had to withstand the serious onslaughts. From your side.

We should not underestimate the enemy.

You cannot underestimate your opponent. Because we all have different approaches. To completing tasks.

How would you assess the difference? In short. In points. The difference in army approaches. I’m not talking about specific moments of the combat, but in general. Maybe, conducting the combat management. How do you see this difference?

On the different approaches of the Russian and Ukrainian armies

Well, the management is the same. The only thing is that your soldier and the artillery crew, for example, a mortar, have a direct connection with each other. That is, without the participation of, for example, a fighter-battalion commander-chief of artillery stuff/chief of artillery-gun commander. That is, this link, battalion commander-chief of artillery, is absent.

Well, I mean, in most cases you have them working directly. Well, the difference is that our commanders have the initiative. – Yes. – Well, in principle, that’s how it is.

Do you think this is a minus? – For us this is a minus, yes. So, it is rather some soviet relic, probably. Something like that. – Well, maybe. Maybe. Again, I don’t presume to say because I’m not such a big commander. But that’s just my vision.

And, your home country. There were protests in Dagestan. Have you heard about them? – No. I haven’t. – So, the information field is somehow closed. But, the opposition media covered it. You may have a different opinion of them, but there were videos of people going to rallies and protests against the war. Or you haven’t heard about them?

About the protests in Dagestan

Well, I remember. If I’m not mistaken, it was at the beginning of the year (2022). I think it was in the spring. There were protests.

Understand me. I had no connection. For me, the information field was closed due to the absence of Internet access.

So you don’t have Internet access at all. You only have a radio that you use. Only a radio station, yes.

Did you somehow maintain contact with your family? – Yes, once a month, once every two months, if I could. I would try to go to places where there was a connection. I would ask the commander for leave and I would leave. I would call home and say that I was alive and well. And so on.

Out of those people I talked with while on leave due to combat wounding… This is not my first wounding. I communicated with the guys I knew. Well, roughly speaking, out of ten people, eight did not support (the war).

Their main answer was that “Only if they (Ukrainians) come to Dagestan and attack Dagestan, then I will take up arms and go fight.”

How do you explain this to yourself? The format of the invasion. They motivate it… Well, they think that there is fascism here. The fight. That there’s infringement of the Russian people in Ukraine.

What is the motivation of Dagestanis to fight for Russia?

What do you personally think about this? I don’t think about this. I haven’t seen this with my own eyes. I can’t speak of what I haven’t seen. You know.

While fighting here, I haven’t seen severed heads lying around or being screwed to the Russian flag. I haven’t seen anything like this.

Russia, unlike Ukraine, is not a mono-national country. That is, in addition to the Slavs, there are many different nationalities there. Have you ever thought that you could have your own independent country? What connects you with Russia enough to be in the same country with them, apart from the soviet past?

Why is Dagestan not a separate country?

I honestly haven’t thought about it. About stories like “Moscow is for Russians”. About the fact that all the funds are flowing to the capital. About the fact that there is no correct economic balance in the regions, as far as I know.

Well. You know. I was raised on the fact that Dagestan is my small motherland. And russia is my big motherland. I come from the family where I was raised like this.

I never thought about the fact that… Maybe my thoughts, my mind, let’s say, haven’t come to this point yet. But I never had the thought “Why doesn’t Dagestan separate from Russia?”

I never thought about it. Just, do you know this story, that in the history of Dagestan it was that your people fought for independence?

Yes. For 25 years. Imam Shamil. Yes. And your people were also dying for it. So, this was never discussed in your family? The attitude towards this.

Well, Imam Shamil is our national hero. In our republic. So. He’s my national hero. You know.

So we will separate from Russia, and then what will we live on?

And he fought for independence against Russia. Against the Russian Empire, yes. He fought. It was the Russian Empire then.

And the attitude of the Russian Empire towards Dagestan at that time… Well, not towards Dagestan. It was the Mountainous Republic then. People wanted to create the Caucasus Emirate. And the attitude was completely different. Than it is now. You know. Well, the Republic of Dagestan is a subsidized republic.

If we take the economic aspect… Well, for example, we separate from Russia. What are we going to live on then?

The republic without its own economy, without its own production, roughly speaking. We won’t survive.

Well, in general. Towards the Kadyrovites, towards the Chechen government, as a citizen of Russia… Well, just as a person and separately as a military man, what is your attitude towards them?

On the attitude towards the Kadyrovites

I have a loyal attitude. Why the hell should Dagestanis die… Or what is the correct name? – Dagestanis. – Dagestanis. …in the fields of Ukraine? Well, like. I don’t get it.

Well, I can’t answer you for another person. Understand me. Maybe they have a lot of problems in Dagestan. For example, financial ones. Financial problems. And this is one of the big motivations to go for smo, in fact. You know. Well, where would a person in Dagestan earn, roughly speaking, 200 thousand a month?

They pay those? – Yes. You know. Maybe they came here with this motivation.

I don’t know, maybe they really are convinced and sure that everyone here, excuse me… That there are only fascists all around here.

Maybe it’s like this. Maybe, as you’re saying, they just have this conviction about… “collecting lands.” That thing.

The main motivation for Dagestanis to go to war is financial motivation

I can’t tell you. You know. Well, generally, I know… I think, at least, that the main motivation is monetary motivation.

Nowhere in Dagestan will you earn 200 thousand. But here, yes. There is a great, let’s say, risk to life, but… It is there, this opportunity.

And these funeral, “grave” payments. Are they paid? Do you know?

It also seems to be quite a big sum of money. – 12 and a half million. Are they paid? – Yes. They are paid. To families. – To families, right. So, there is no such thing that they’re not being paid? – No. No. And 3 million are paid too.

Just… Why I asked. Because we see that often dead bodies are not collected by the enemy side. That is, they don’t collect their own. And there is an assumption that there is logic in this. I just understand that that’s why they (corpses) are just lying there and they don’t give a shit about their own.

On attitudes towards the wounded and dead

And there is an assumption that this is done in order not to pay the relatives of the dead. They will just say “He went missing.” And that’s it. Or they really don’t give a damn about their own?

While sitting at “kerosene”… When we were defending the forest belt. When I was leaving that forest belt. I was changed then. I had a clear order: until we get everyone out of there, absolutely all the bodies… These were the bodies of your guys who had remained there before. And ours too. Not specifically from my battalion, but in general. We pulled out absolutely every body. I care about this a lot.

It is an important moment for me. Because, you see… A man came to fight, a man died. And he was simply abandoned. And whoever does this – may God judge them for it.

Well, I’m talking about “Wagner”, first of all. About what we saw from the battles with the “Wagner’s”.

So, by the way, “Wagner” as a military unit… Well, there are “Wagner’s” who are contract soldiers… Well, not like volunteers. Mercenaries. Those who fought in Syria. This is one “Wagner”. I understand that there’s a separation. And there is another “Wagner”, which is convicts. So, in general, how do you feel about this military unit, their effectiveness and generally as a phenomenon?

Attitude to the Wagnerians

Well… What about “Wagner”? “Wagner” are mercenaries. Their sole motivation is money. They don’t follow an order. They have contract. They fulfill it. This is my attitude towards them.

It’s just that they didn’t treat their convicts the way you say about your guys. That is, they didn’t care. They would send their personnel to attack in a clear field.

Well, I just didn’t know about that. They would just walk one after another and that’s it. We would mow them down with a heavy machine gun, and the next ones would begin to move. Like they tell about those World War 2 assaults that we call “meat assaults”. That’s actually how they would walk at us.

On the rebellion of the Prigozhin.

So, as I understand it, you don’t discuss such things? You don’t have that. – No, I don’t have that. And that story about Prigozhin and his mutiny?

I was on leave at that time. – So, you were in the information space then. – To be honest, I try not to surf the internet at all, in fact.

We were going somewhere then, I think. When this whole mutiny started. My former brigade commander… Well, he didn’t take part in the mutiny himself. He had a conflict with Prigozhin.

Well… The man made his choice. You know. I don’t know. Maybe… Maybe that was some big political game. Maybe. Maybe, the man just got tired of everything. I don’t know what was going on then. How I feel about that… Well, he did what he did. It was his choice. We live in a free country just like you.

Well, let’s suppose, Prigozhin didn’t die. He entered Moscow and shot whoever he wanted. And, let’s suppose, he changed the government. How would you feel about this? Or you would say: “Well, there’s a commander-in-chief in the army. Let him give the order.”

I would not recognize Pry if he seized power

If I had an order to stand in Prigozhin’s way, I would stand in Prigozhin’s way. I tell you this. I wouldn’t recognize Prigozhin’s power.

So, Putin’s power has a mandate, after all. I mean, the majority of people support it. – Yes. Yes.

Don’t you think this smack of dictatorship? To be sitting in power for 20 years. No matter what kind of presidents we had, they didn’t suit us. But we at least have some kind of rotation of power. At least minimal.

We have stability in Russia. You know. – But this is not democracy. – Maybe. Maybe.

In this regard, it’s as if you don’t care that Russia has not become democratic and slipped into such a…

On “freedom of speech” in Russia

Well, I wouldn’t say that we live in such a poor country. – No, I’m not talking about poverty. I’m talking about freedom of speech. As a whole, about any values ??associated with democracy.

Well, I express my thoughts freely in my country. You know. – Well, as far as we know, it’s not allowed to criticize Putin.

I have no need to criticize him. – Well, I mean, if you had someone you were friends with. And Navalny? – Well, Navalny is in jail. And he’s staying there.

I don’t know but… I can tell you for myself. You know. I don’t feel like I’m within any political bounds. That I can’t do something.

Because you are part of the support, after all. And now, at the moment, have you somehow changed your worldview regarding what your government says and regarding the government in general? – No.

So, you think that this is still right? – What exactly? – What is happening to Russia now. Such policy.

I do not support the war

War… I did not support the war at all. In fact. Well, war is… What good can come from war? Except death, except destruction. I don’t support war. I can’t say that this is right. But I can’t say that this is wrong. You know. I’m a committed person. I’m a military man. Please understand me.

I didn’t have time to think about the death of Pryghozin and who killed him

And the killing of Prigozhin? He was shot down by air defense. That is, his plane crashed with an explosion on Russian territory. You definitely can’t drag Ukrainians into this.

So. Therefore, do you perceive this as something that most likely was done by your government? Or somehow you haven’t thought about this either?

I didn’t have time to think about that. Really. You know when I found out about that? Probably, on September 8th. Approximately. Well, literally relatively recently. So I haven’t even thought about it yet. Probably, yes. Maybe he was just taken out. Maybe something else. This is big politics, you know. You know it yourself. Politics is a dirty business. By itself. So I don’t try to dig into that.

And the Second Chechen War. Have you discussed this at all? All these stories about blown up houses. All the rest. There are a lot of insinuations about this. In general, this was a very controversial situation, in my opinion.

The 2nd Chechen war started in Dagestan

Well, the Second Chechen War… I’ll tell you this. It started in Dagestan. Karamakhi. Chabanmakhi. It’s in Dagestan. The campaign itself started in Dagestan. Dagestan didn’t support it. It didn’t support the federal troops, nor did it support the Chechens who came there.

Dagestan has always treated this… This is intra-Chechen policy. I mean what was happening in Chechnya at that time. So. And it may or may not be controversial… You know. Maybe the military formations of Ichkeria saw support in Dagestan. That the republic would support Chechnya in this regard. And the two of them, as in the time of Imam Shamil, would unite and declare war on Russia.

Dagestan is my small homeland, and Russia is my big one

Well, the republic didn’t support it. The explosions… You know. What’s good about terrorism?

There’s an opinion and I can’t say that it is devoid of arguments. There are quite weighty arguments that the explosions were set up by the FSB to justify the Second Chechen campaign.

Maybe. Maybe. I don’t know anything about this. Do you have patriotic feelings specifically for your republic? I mean, how do you feel about it in general? Or you don’t have such distribution? Russia it is. How is it?

Dagestan is my small motherland. Russia is my big motherland. So you can’t call yourself a patriot of Dagestan or a nationalist of Dagestan? – No. No. By no means. No.

I treat nationalism with great respect, and I would do the same in your place

What’s your attitude towards Ukrainian nationalism? Excluding the propaganda on your part.

I don’t see nationalism here. – So, for you, nationalism has a negative connotation? – Being in Ukraine, I don’t see here… I haven’t seen anyone doing “Sieg Heil” here, excuse me.

I understand that you are now talking about Nazism and fascism. Nationalism in a sense like patriotism, only in an active deeds format.

I’m talking now about nationalism as like… – Patriotism. – Yes, like patriotism. As such active, proactive patriotism. When people volunteer and give their all for their country.

Yes. With big… – So, how do you generally feel about this? – With big sympathy. – Well, this is in fact what makes us fight you quite successfully.

So you would do the same if you were in our position? – Yes.

So, like, you understand that we’re the enemy but you treat it with respect? – Of course. I always treat with respect.

Do you think that nationalists and patriots in general committed crimes in Ukraine? I mean ours.

About infringement of the Russian-speaking people… The Russian-speaking population, more precisely. Infringement of the Russian language itself. But you and me are communicating in Russian. At the moment.

It’s just… – If I saw that… How do I say this… Having been in Oleshky, in the Kherson region. In Vuhledar. If I saw heads hanging on Russian flags, then I would say: “Yes, I saw that.” You know.

I understand that you want freedom. I understand that you’re fighting for your country. I have a normal attitude towards this. I’ll say it again, I haven’t seen anyone doing “Sieg Heil” here or anything like that. You’re fighting for your country. That’s a fact.

I understand that you want freedom and are fighting for your country, and I respect that.

I will never in my life allow myself to desecrate any monuments. Your monuments, for example. To your heroes, I mean. Heroes of Ukraine. For me it’s… Well, what harm did a monument do to me? Roughly speaking.

So. I don’t know. And the outcomes… The outcomes will probably be the most… Specifically for the ordinary population. I don’t think that the Ukrainians will come to Russia and start slaughtering everyone there and hanging them left and right. I don’t think so. Well, I’m sure that this won’t happen.

On the end of the war and surrender

It will be exactly the same as… Well, this is one of the options. I can’t say that… I don’t think that… Well, the outcomes will be usual post-war outcomes. There will be some kind of agreement. And then on the basis of this agreement… Well, I mean capitulation and so on.

You basically have that motivation cultivated that this is some kind of near-sacred war. That it is right. Well, right in the sense that… – I understood. – Yes.

So, accordingly, this will be a collapse of ideals? – Maybe. Probably yes.

The guys want to make money, what is there to hide?

I don’t understand why your guys are going to die in a war that isn’t theirs. I really don’t understand this. I understand when career military personnel do this, as we were talking about it. But that I don’t understand at all.

I already told you. Like. The main reason is that you simply cannot earn that kind of money in Dagestan. You know.

So, it’s only for financial reason. – It’s only… Well, yes. – Mostly. – Yes. Yes. Yes. Why hide it? You know.

If at some point you find out about war crimes of the Russian army. Generally, how critical is this for you? When your army commits war crimes primarily against civilians.

If I see someone committing a crime in front of me, I will shoot them on the spot

They must stand trial. And be shot without delay. If ever in my life I see an officer or soldier commit some crime before my eyes… Believe me, I will personally shoot that person. This is my opinion.

And it doesn’t matter whether he is a general or someone else. In my understanding, one is an enemy, an opponent, as long as they’re holding a weapon in their hands and I’m fighting them on the battlefield.

And everything that happens outside the battlefield is not an opponent, it is not the enemy. If I see that with my own eyes, that man will be a dead man. And it will make no difference to me whether it will come from your side or my side.

About the family

I have this attitude towards this. For me this is very very very important.

Well, as for an officer and a military commander. – Yes. Yes. Yes, I have a wife and a daughter.

They are okay with your job? They aren’t involved in my job. I forbid them. – You forbid them to anyhow get involved in that at all? – Yes.

They are worried. But I forbid them to get involved in this. I always say that I have two wives. Well, that’s, like, intra-family jokes. I have two wives. “My first wife is the army. My second wife is you.” That’s what I tell my wife. Like that.

Last question. About captivity. What would you like to say to other fighters, having already experienced captivity yourself? Your personal attitude. What would you wish for your fighters, in principle? About captivity as a choice and what you saw here.

What would you like to tell your soldiers?

Well, no, I won’t say “Surrender yourselves into captivity” or anything else. It is the choice of each person. Please understand me correctly. I myself would not have surrendered if I had really been sure that there were units of your Third Assault Brigade there.

So. But here… Well, what… It’s not a resort here, of course. But they don’t beat me up here. I was given full support. I mean, medical care. I’m not being humiliated. They don’t apply physical or mental torture. They feed us. Not as much as we would like, of course. But, as I said, we are not at a resort. Yes, it’s still captivity. It is bad.

I’m telling you again that I haven’t seen anyone here treating me like some kind of… No. Just like a prisoner of war. What should the attitude towards a prisoner of war be like. That’s all.

What would you do if you had an order but realized that it was criminal?

You okay with everything? – Yes. Now I have a question for you. Look. You said that, as I understood it, you have a generally negative attitude towards the war. You said that it’s all killing and everything. But at the same moment you are a military man and for you an order is above all. – Yes.

Look. If you understand that, let’s say, an order from your higher command is criminal. That it’s not right. You can, for example, appeal against the order – Yes. – Not carry out the order. What would you choose? To still carry out the order as a military man?

Look. Depending on… Criminal in what way? If it is directed towards civilians, against the peaceful population, I will never carry out this order. No matter what it would cost me. Career, life, and so on.

So, I understand correctly that you are a major, right? – Yes. – So, you would put the honor of the officer higher than the order.

– Yes, higher. Of course. Yes. Undoubtedly.

Have you ever had such cases? – No. Thank God, that never happened. That I ever faced some kind of choice. I mean, that the civilian population would suffer. In no case. If I will know that there is even one fraction of a percent that the civilian population will suffer… While I’ll be carrying out that task. I will not carry out that task.

For me this is above all. Believe me. That means honor for me.” ###

Recommendation for Tactical Planners:

After analyzing Major Timur Abdurakhmanov’s interview, Radio Free Ukraine’s suggestion is that Ukrainian and NATO tactical planners can derive valuable insights to inform their decision-making processes and operational strategies.

Three key takeaways from the interview are as follows:

1. Prioritize Humane Treatment of Prisoners:

   Tactical planners should prioritize the humane treatment of prisoners of war, aligning with international laws and norms. Abdurakhmanov’s account emphasizes the importance of respecting the dignity of captured combatants, regardless of their nationality or affiliation.

As he states, “Maintaining humane treatment of prisoners is essential for upholding moral standards.”

This approach not only fosters goodwill and compliance with humanitarian principles but also contributes to the ethical conduct of military operations.

2. Emphasize Personal Integrity and Ethical Decision-Making:

   Planners should emphasize the importance of personal integrity and ethical decision-making among military personnel. Abdurakhmanov’s willingness to disobey orders that conflict with ethical norms underscores the significance of individual agency in mitigating harm during wartime. As he asserts, “Balancing loyalty to country with ethical considerations is crucial for navigating moral dilemmas.” Encouraging a culture of ethical awareness and accountability can enhance the moral conduct of military operations and minimize adverse consequences.

3. Address Socioeconomic Drivers of Recruitment:

   Tactical planners must address the socioeconomic drivers influencing soldiers’ decisions to engage in warfare, particularly financial motivations. Abdurakhmanov’s insights into the economic disparities between regions highlight the role of financial incentives in recruitment and retention within military ranks. As he acknowledges, “Addressing underlying socioeconomic disparities can help mitigate the allure of financial incentives.” Implementing measures to alleviate socioeconomic inequality and provide alternative livelihood opportunities can reduce reliance on financial incentives for participation in armed conflict.

Incorporating these key takeaways into tactical planning processes can contribute to the ethical conduct of military operations, enhance the treatment of prisoners of war, and address underlying socioeconomic factors influencing soldiers’ decisions to engage in warfare. By prioritizing humane treatment, promoting ethical decision-making, and addressing socioeconomic drivers of recruitment, tactical planners can uphold moral standards and contribute to the successful execution of military missions.

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