Russia Trying to Get Ukraine POWs to Change Sides, Kyiv Claims

Ukraine's Defense Ministry has said that Ukrainian troops who have been captured by Russia are being asked to fight for Moscow's forces.

The claim was made during an update of operations on the Defense Ministry's Telegram channel.

It described how Russian armed forces were asking Ukrainian prisoners of war in the Rostov region of northern Ukraine, "to join the occupation troops in exchange for an amnesty."

It said Russia is appearing to enlist even those with no military experience in a move which came because Russian troops had an "acute need for reinforcement" according to the post, suggesting that Russia needed to replenish troop numbers.

The claims, which have not been independently verified, also described how Russian forces in the Kherson region had tried to set up a police-administered area where commanders maintain "order". Russian forces have captured the strategic port city on the Black Sea.

Kyiv added that in the Chernihiv region of northern Ukraine, Russian forces had suffered "significant losses" and that as a result, they were "demoralized and surrendered."

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry, which Newsweek has contacted for comment, also accused Russia of violating international law by looting, taking captives and executing civilians.

It comes as the British Ministry of Defense [MOD] said on Friday that Russia's invasion of Ukraine two weeks ago had not gone according to plan.

The MOD said that "Russian ground forces continue to make limited progress," and that "logistical issues that have hampered the Russian advance persist, as does strong Ukrainian resistance."

"It is highly unlikely that Russia has successfully achieved the objectives outlined in its pre-invasion plan," the MOD tweeted.

"Russia is likely seeking to reset and re-posture its forces for renewed offensive activity in the coming days. This will probably include operations against the capital Kyiv."

Russia has captured parts of northeastern and coastal Ukraine but advances have stalled and a Russian convoy is stuck outside the capital city.

However, the lack of progress has added to speculation over which way the war declared by President Vladimir Putin on February 24 will turn next.

"The fighting during the next week to 10 days will determine if Russia can maintain the initiative and march, however slowly, to the control of the country, or if there is a stalemate, at which time Putin will have to decide whether to escalate or negotiate," Clifford Brown, political science professor at Union College, in New York state, told Newsweek.

"My bet at this time is that he will find a way to escalate, and that is a great worry."

Follow Newsweek's live blog for the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war.

Ukrainian soldiers
Ukrainian soldiers at a checkpoint east of the strategic port city of Mykolaiv, Ukraine, on March 10, 2022. The Ukrainian defense ministry has said that Russia is asking Ukrainian prisoners of war to fight for them. Scott Peterson/Getty