According to the Ukrainian government, between September 15, 2022 (the day it was launched) and last January 20, 6,543 Russian soldiers contacted the “I want to live” helpline. The Call centerIt is intended to help the Russian army surrender from the war, and is installed in a secret location to avoid interference.
POW Department spokesman Vitaly Matvienko told the newspaper Guardian The identities of all Russian players who contact the helpline are verified using their service number and their personal details.
The project has 10 operators working 24 hours a day, seven days a week. On an average, they receive 50 to 100 calls and messages every day.
“During the liberation of Kherson, we received calls from the Russians: ‘Save our souls, because we are stuck somewhere in the mud, our battalion is completely destroyed, we have 10 soldiers, please get us out of this mess,'” Matvienko told the same newspaper.
Although he disclosed the total number of calls received, Matvienko did not provide information on the number of surrenders already carried out. However, it is known that they are then sent back in detainee exchanges or remain in the agency’s custody, eventually being given the opportunity to stay in Ukraine or emigrate.
When the Russians opt for prisoner exchanges, he says, he gives them personal “I want to live” helpline cards once they return to the battlefields.