Yuri Shalayev was just 23 years old when he was called up to fight in the war in Ukraine. A few months before the invasion, he had the life of any other young man: he went out with his friends, had a beer with his girlfriend and took care of his daughter, little Masha. Yuri graduated as a platoon leader of motorized infantry and drank to celebrate with his friends. Her life changed on February 24.
Already on the way, an old man warned them: “go back to your mothers“. But he and his comrades continued forward: otherwise they would end up expelled from the Army. On March 3, they arrived in Ukraine. Russian bombing had already reduced many cities to ashes. Like other Russian soldiers, Yuri began to wonder.
His life was quickly reduced to spending time inside his armor while watching his companions get hit. “We have taken a corpse from the engineering battalion. It was minced meat,” she recounted in one of his videos as a diary. The days went by and the war no longer seemed to be going as well as the Kremlin claimed. “They’re killing us, we’re dead“, he explained to the camera.
From one moment to the next, Yuri and his battalion didn’t know what to do, whether to regroup or not. They ended up in an abandoned town and the young Russian began to feel the weight of the war. Shortly after, his armor was destroyed. But Yuri managed to survive and hid in a farm, until they found him. It is the last video he recorded before being captured by Ukrainian soldiers.