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Former Ukrainian soldier shares details of his escape to Russian troops on T-64 tank

DPR defense circles said earlier that Maksim Likhachyov had surrendered to Russian troops near Donetsk

DONETSK, May 30. /TASS/. Former Ukrainian soldier Maksim Likhachyov who switched to the Russian side on a T-64 tank told TASS that he had left positions in the Avdeyevka area in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), taking advantage of the retreat of his fellow servicemen.

The escape operation was prepared for quite a long time with the coordination of the Russian side, he specified.

DPR defense circles told TASS earlier that a former Ukrainian soldier had surrendered to Russian troops near Donetsk, bringing a T-64 main battle tank together with him.

"We were thrown into positions like cannon fodder and I transmitted coordinates to my friends. An hour later, shelling began. The strikes targeted adjacent positions rather than ours to cause panic. This is what really happened. I chose a proper moment, saw a vehicle and jumped into it. When everyone was escaping, I took advantage of the situation. All this was prepared for a long time and guys on the other side also waited for an appropriate moment," the former Ukrainian soldier said.

From the very start, Ukrainian fellow servicemen interpreted Likhachyov’s actions as an attempt to shield the retreating force. "That is why, no one suspected anything. Everything proceeded on wild adrenaline. I simply got in and drove to where they were waiting for me," the former Ukrainian soldier said.

Likhachyov said that his Russian friends he had got acquainted with in Poland while working at a meat-processing plant in 2021-2022 had advised him to escape on an armored vehicle. At that time, he made a decision to return to the Lugansk People’s Republic where his mother and sister were living. He said that it was the Ukrainian authorities’ attitude to their own population that prompted his decision.

Likhachyov said that he had served as an assault force soldier in the Ukrainian army and had never been a tank crewman.

"I used to drive a tractor in the countryside. I also showed interest in YouTube and they sent links to me. I planned all this well in advance and prepared for that," the former Ukrainian serviceman said, adding that he had reached Russian army positions quite quickly and no one opened fire at the tank.

Likhachyov was born in the town of Krasnodon in the Lugansk People’s Republic. In 2014, he left for the town of Svatovo on the Kiev-controlled territory as he initially disagreed with the prospect of the region breaking away from Ukraine. However, he soon regretted his decision but had no possibility to return home. In 2021, he left for Poland for earnings and in 2022 he returned to Ukraine and was mobilized.