- Notebook entries found in Kharkiv reflect the bleak outlook of Russian forces on the war in Ukraine.
- In September, Ukrainian troops won back most of Kharkiv, forcing Russians to retreat.
- One soldier was mentally imagining a vacation with his family in late 2023 as reality set in.
A Russian soldier wrote journal entries to his future self and family, envisioning an eventual break from war during the height of Ukraine’s counteroffensive in the northeast.
The unnamed soldier’s notebook entries were found in a notebook recovered at an abandoned Russian base in Kharkiv after Russian troops retreated from most of the region in September, Reuters reported.
Ukraine’s successful counteroffensive in northeastern Kharkiv kicked off in the late summer and intensified in early September. By mid-September, cities like Balakliia and Izium had been liberated, and Russian leadership announced that it was retreating from nearly all of the Kharkiv region, transferring troops elsewhere.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said within days of the September counteroffensive, Ukraine regained over 1,158 square miles of territory from Russian forces. In other documents obtained by Reuters, soldiers communicated with their superiors, urgently asking for basic munitions and drones.
As Ukrainian troops relied on American HIMARS missile launchers, Russian troops in Balakliia, Kharkiv, were running out of weapons — and morale, according to the journal entries published by Reuters.
“If you sit and look at the river for long enough, you will eventually see your enemies floating by,” the unnamed soldier wrote in the notebook, referring to the encircling Ukrainian troops at the time.
Another notebook entry by the unnamed soldier reflected a long-term outlook on the war and an imagination of a different future.
“I went home on Aug 10, 2023, I’m already home with my family,” the soldier wrote. “I’m having a nice time in Khabarovsk with my family, with my wife and my girls.”