In early October 2023, thousands of Ukrainian soldiers surrendered to Russia.
Based on reports from Russian state-owned news sources, social media users claimed as many as 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers opted to surrender to Russia in early October 2023 via a "special radio frequency." There is no evidence that is true.
In early October 2023, a rumor was circulated online that Ukraine was surrendering to Russia. "Special radio frequency being used so that Ukrainian soldiers can safely surrender to Russian forces," one X (formerly Twitter) user claimed. "Thousands of Ukrainian soldiers are opting to surrender to the Russian Army. These surrenders were seen even through a newly established Russian radio frequency," the comment continued. Moreover, the in-question post on X had a photograph attached, allegedly depicting Ukrainian soldiers in an act of surrender.
(X user @JimFergusonUK)
"Ukrainian forces are laying down their Western-supplied arms and surrendering en masse," another post on X read, "Using emergency radio frequencies, they're receiving food & medical care and even sharing critical intel with Russian forces." In the video by X user @TheRedactedInc, which at the time of this writing had accumulated over 360,000 views, the hosts of the Redacted show claimed that "the Western media is not gonna show you this story."
First of all, we investigated the source of the photo visible in the viral post. TinEye's reverse-image search results showed that it had circulated online since at least April 2022. For instance, Reuters reported that on April 13, 2022, "Russian state TV released what it said was footage of Ukrainian soldiers surrendering in the city of Mariupol." However, Reuters was not able to verify the authenticity of the video.
What's more, we checked if any media outlets confirmed any of the above-mentioned claims about Ukraine surrendering to Russia and thousands of Ukrainian soldiers laying down arms. We found an article published on Sept. 27, 2023, by RT, a Russian state-controlled international news television network, which read:
More than 10,000 of Kiev's forces have reportedly laid down arms in recent weeks, using a special radio channel to contact the Russian military
Large numbers of Ukrainian troops have surrendered to the Russian military in recent weeks, using a special radio frequency designed for fighters willing to lay down arms, TASS reported on Wednesday.
The frequency, 149.200 call sign 'Volga', was set up by the Russian military during the summer. Thus far, it has been used by more than 10,000 Ukrainian servicemen who were subsequently taken into Russian custody, according to a source with knowledge of the situation cited by TASS. The person added that the radio frequency is active along the entire front line.
It continued, underscoring that allegedly more and more Ukrainian soldiers were surrendering in groups:
"More than 10,0000 Ukrainian soldiers have chosen life and used the 149.200 'Volga' frequency to surrender. The prisoners are well-fed and are provided with all the necessary medical care," the source stated.
The process has seemingly accelerated recently as Ukrainian troops have surrendered in groups rather than individually, particularly around Rabotino, according to the TASS source. The village in Zaporozhye Region has become the scene of intense fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces in recent weeks.
The RT article stemmed from another article published by The Russian News Agency TASS, that claimed to have obtained all the above information from "operational services":
The 149.200 frequency, which can be accessed on any digital radio, is specially designated to be used by Ukrainian servicemen as a channel for communicating their intention to surrender to the Russian military, which can then locate them and take them captive safely, thus saving the Ukrainian servicemen from risking their lives crossing minefields to reach the Russian lines. The project has been operational since mid-summer.
Mostly Russian-owned websites (that consider the war in Ukraine "a special operation") such as Sputnik, copy-pasted the in-question information online and spread pro-Russian propaganda to the effect that, for instance, Russia is aiming "to prevent pointless bloodshed among by Ukrainian soldiers." Given that, it is highly possible that the rumor about Ukraine surrendering to Russia in 2023 was deliberately spread by Russian officials and is yet another example of Russian disinformation efforts.
No evidence has come to light, nor have reputable news sources or Ukrainian officials issued statements, confirming the claim spread by Russian propaganda outlets that thousands of Ukrainian soldiers surrendered. Therefore, we rate this claim as Unfounded. Since the beginning of the Russian aggression on Ukraine in February 2022, we have fact-checked multiple rumors on the topic, which you can read in our archive.
Editorial, Reuters. Russia Releases Video Purporting to Show Ukrainian Marines Surrendering | Reuters Video. https://reut.rs/3M2i4ov. Accessed 2 Oct. 2023.
Over 10,000 Ukrainian Fighters Surrender since Summer Using Special Radio Frequency - Russian Politics & Diplomacy - TASS. 1 Oct. 2023, https://web.archive.org/web/20231001204615/https://tass.com/politics/1681055.
Russian Forces Push Ukrainian Troops out of Village Northwest of Artyomovsk, Official Says - Russian Politics & Diplomacy - TASS. 28 Sept. 2023, https://web.archive.org/web/20230928165829/https://tass.com/politics/1679881.
Ukrainian Soldiers Massively Surrender via Russian Radio Freq – Reports. 2 Oct. 2023, https://web.archive.org/web/20231002141634/https://sputnikglobe.com/20230930/thousands-of-ukrainian-troops-surrender-via-russian-radio-hotline-1113816561.html.
Ukrainian Troops Surrendering En Masse – TASS — RT Russia & Former Soviet Union. 2 Oct. 2023, https://web.archive.org/web/20231002130537/https://www.rt.com/russia/583643-ukrainian-troops-surrender-figures/.