Fighters in Ukraine’s international legion say Western-equipped weapons are getting stolen by corrupt commanders who are also bullying their subordinates and abusing their ability to dismiss any one who thoughts them on trumped-up charges.
Sasha Kapuscinski, a Polish gangster-turned-officer now in cost of operations for just one of the two branches of the overseas legion is singled out for unique criticism in a large-ranging investigation by the Kyiv Independent.
Kapuscinski is accused of ‘acting like a Mafia boss’ by stealing weapons which includes US rifles and anti-tank launchers in purchase to sell them – occasionally again to his possess adult males – as effectively as sexually harassing a female recruit, and of pointing a loaded gun at one guy who defied him.
Soldiers say his remarkable officers, an uncle and nephew the two called Taras Vashuk, acted to safeguard him and in some cases joined the abuse. A lieutenant-colonel named only as Bohdan and one particular of his subordinates, Nikolay Bakaliuk, are also accused.
Reporters say there is no suggestion of extensive-ranging theft of innovative Western weapons as Russian propagandists have claimed, but that dozens – probably hundreds – of recruits have stop the overseas legion right after authorities unsuccessful to look into.
A lieutenant-colonel named only as Bohdan was allegedly caught on camera threatening troopers less than his command
Sasha Kapuscinski, a Polish gangster-turned-officer (circled), is among the foreign legion commanders accused of theft, abuse and bullying of his subordinates
Troopers who spoke out anonymously say this is undermining the war hard work and have called for urgent action so no more manpower or materiel is squandered.
Investigators say it has not been attainable to do the job out who the allegedly stolen weapons were being marketed to or wherever they finished up, but additional there is no proof they have remaining the region.
The probe started about the summer time when the newspaper was approached by many dozen existing and previous users of just one department of the overseas legion – set up by Kyiv to confess fighters from overseas – who complained of bad cure.
It has since expanded to include equally branches, run separately by Ukraine’s navy intelligence and ground forces, with troopers expressing they contacted journalists as a last vacation resort right after grievances to the armed service, police, and politicians were overlooked.
Most of the complaints focus on Kapuscinski, a Pole who was a identified member of the Pruszkow gang in the early 2000s and has served time in jail in his property place for crimes including robbery, kidnapping for ransom, medications and stabbing.
He still left Poland – exactly where he is even now desired for fraud – and arrived to Ukraine, in which he was accused of aggravated theft in 2016 and unlawful arms possession in 2021 ahead of becoming a member of the armed service in February as Putin invaded.
Poland nevertheless would like him to be deported but Kyiv has refused to hand him over, and has paused investigations in opposition to him in Ukraine whilst he serves the navy.
Kapuscinski is now in charge of functions for the branch of the foreign legion run by military services intelligence, together with controlling the armoury and logistics.
These who have served with him informed investigators that weapons shipped to armouries under his handle – which include numerous hundred rifle bayonets and a identical quantity of pistols – experienced a ‘bad habit’ of disappearing.
Many others reported they were requested to load rifles into civilian autos underneath his way – exactly where they also observed NLAW tubes and Javelin canisters – in advance of they have been driven away and under no circumstances seen once more.
Troopers also accused Kapuscinski of spuriously confiscating their particular machines such as ammunition, drones, holsters or helmets they purchased them selves or were being sent by non-public overseas donors in buy to sell them.
Fighters allege that dozens of western rifles, anti-tank launchers, pistols, grenades and ammunition went missing from bases less than the command of corrupt officers (file impression)
In 1 scenario, a device been given a cargo of thermal imagining equipment that was allegedly taken by Kapuscinski who then experimented with to provide it again to his have adult males at $300 a piece.
One particular recruit reported this conduct was frequent knowledge, and referred to by the adult men as the ‘Sasha tax.’
Soldiers also complained that Kapuscinski would frequently send them on suicide missions, instruct them to loot buildings, or give nonsensical orders.
Whilst numerous complied out of worry, some resisted and faced abuse, summary dismissals and – on just one event – was allegedly threatened with a loaded gun.
An American-Jewish recruit, who said Kapuscinski utilised anti-Semitic language in direction of him, accused him of pointing a weapon at him when he refused to hand more than a share of gear he had obtained for his squad-mates.
Nadim Khmaladze, a Georgian soldier who give up the legion immediately after getting despatched on what he thought of to be a suicide mission, claimed Major Vashuk – Kapuscinski’s remarkable – also pointed a loaded weapon at him when he refused to hand more than his equipment.
Another who complained said Kapuscinski dragged him out of healthcare facility though he was remaining addressed for a broken neck, set him on an 18-hour practice to Lviv in agonising agony, and dismissed him for getting a deserter.
A female soldier said Kapuscinski compelled her to sit on his lap, tried out to kiss her, and would catcall ladies in the road.
Meanwhile Bohdan, who worked for the other branch of the international legion under command of the Ukrainian floor forces, was also accused of stealing weapons and abusing gentlemen below his command.
Troops stated he was inclined to violent temper swings, specifically when confronted about ‘suicide missions’ he at times despatched recruits on.
In one particular video obtained by the Kyiv Impartial, Bohdan can be heard telling a recruit: 1 a lot more phrase, just one far more motion. You will be f***ing ruined.’
Bohdan allegedly threatened to have the male sent to jail in Ukraine, exactly where he claimed to have contacts who would be certain him a ‘good time’.
Soon after months of issues, Bohdan was moved from command of one unit to another – nevertheless within the foreign legion – immediately after which superiors made the decision to audit his old armoury to test if everything was lacking.
Troops say the corruption is not widespread and does not include highly developed Western weapons methods, but is harming the performance of the foreign legion (file impression)
They discovered 54 US-built M4 carbines, several anti-tank weapons like RPGs and NLAWs, grenades, pistols, and a few thousand rounds of ammunition have been lacking.
Suspicion also fell on Nikolay Bakaliuk, 1 of Bohdan’s subordinates, who was in de-facto regulate of the armoury at the time.
Problems accuse Bakaliuk of corruption, theft of equipment, and bullying.
None of the missing weapons have been recovered, with Ukrainian officers stating it is extremely really hard to track small-arms at the time they make it down to unit stage because they can conveniently be prepared off as ruined or lost to the enemy.
An formal investigation has now been opened into Kapuscinski by the Luhansk Specialized Army and Defense Prosecutor’s Business office, on claims of abuse of electricity.
He has not however been named as a suspect, but faces up to 12 a long time in jail if he is charged and subsequently located guilty.
Bohdan is not going through investigation, but customers of the legion say he has reformed his conduct due to the fact currently being relieved of his earlier command.
He gave in-depth denials to the Independent of all of the allegations against him.
Bohdan claimed his superiors are also ‘looking into’ promises versus Bakaliuk, but no official probe has yet been released. Bakaliuk has also denied the allegations.
While evidence of corruption, brutality and incompetence in just the Russian army is popular, it is unusual to get these an insight into Ukraine’s ranks.
Individuals troopers who did complain produced it clear that this sort of troubles are not widespread and are constrained to individual commanders or models, but that they none-the-much less exist.
Just one solider stated: ‘It dishonours the Ukrainian army. It dishonours the Legion as a whole. And I obtain it really discouraging.’