Captured Russian Pilot Says He Was Ordered to Hit Civilian Targets

Video of a Russian pilot apparently admitting he had been ordered to bomb a civilian target has been widely shown on Ukrainian media.

During a press conference streamed by Interfax Ukraine, the pilot, who gave his name as Maxim Krishtop, described how he had learned of his orders, which he carried out before being shot down on March 6 and captured by Ukrainian forces.

"In the process of completing the task, I realized that the target was not enemy military facilities, but residential buildings, peaceful people.

"But I carried out the criminal order," said Krishtop, a lieutenant colonel and deputy commander of the 47th Aviation Regiment, adding that he was shot down by Ukraine's air defense system and taken prisoner.

He said he carried out three bombing missions in Ukraine, some of which involved deploying FAB-500— Soviet-era air-dropped bombs with a high-explosive warhead.

Pilot Asks for Forgiveness

"I recognize the enormity of the crimes committed by me. I want to ask forgiveness from the entire Ukrainian people for the misfortune that we brought them," he said.

"I will do everything in my power to end this war as quickly as possible, and bring those responsible for this genocide of Ukrainians to justice."

"I also urge all military personnel of the Russian Federation to stop carrying out military crimes against the peaceful people of Ukraine. " He concluded by saying: "I think we have already lost this war."

Krishtop appeared in a lineup of three Russian officers Ukraine claims to have captured and who were brought to speak to the media.

Moscow has accused Kyiv of mistreating prisoners and has said that those of its personnel who have publicly rejected the mission are speaking under duress, a claim Ukraine has rejected.

The press conference comes amid numerous reports of low morale among Russian military staff and anecdotes of how many believed they were duped into fighting in Ukraine.

Last week, unverified video showed a Russian prisoner of war claiming that Russia's military were shooting their own wounded. Other videos circulated by Ukrainian authorities apparently show Russian soldiers tearfully regretting their presence in the conflict.

Last week, video shared on social media appeared to show a Russian soldier complaining that he and his colleagues had been abandoned as "cannon fodder" by their superiors.

While some of the videos posted by the Ukrainian Security Service are aimed at increasing Russian opposition to the war, they have raised ethical issues.

"You may not publish pictures of prisoners of war where they can be recognized," said Marco Sassoli, a professor of international law at the University of Geneva, told CBC. The Geneva Convention says prisoners must be "treated with dignity and not exposed to public curiosity—like circulating images on social media."

Russian pilot shot down
A screengrab of a press conference with captured Russian pilot Maxim Krishtop, who said that he had been ordered to target a residential building in Ukraine. He asked for the forgiveness of the Ukrainian people.