John McIntyre, a former US army soldier, spent a year as a mercenary in Ukraine before fleeing to Russia FILE PHOTO. © Sputnik / Pavel Bednyakov

The Nazi influence in the Ukrainian military is omnipresent, John McIntyre, a former US soldier who served in various Ukrainian military units for a year, has told RT. He defected to Russia after witnessing the actions of the Ukrainian troops amid the ongoing conflict between Kiev and Moscow.

“When I came, I was really surprised. Everybody had tattoos and Nazi symbolism,” the former American soldier-turned-mercenary told RT’s Murad Gazdiev in Moscow. McIntyre also admitted he did not believe Nazi ideology was “that big of a problem” for Ukraine until he saw things on the ground himself.

The soldier also said he had to conceal his own anti-fascist and communist views to fit in with the Ukrainian troops. Some other Western mercenaries also directly told him: “The Russians aren’t the Nazis, we are the Nazis,” according to McIntyre.

The ex-US soldier served with the Ukrainian forces for a year, although now he claims he had always planned to defect to Russia once he gathered enough intelligence. At a certain point, he was “compromised as a whistleblower” after talking to someone about the war crimes committed by the Ukrainian forces. According to McIntyre, whistleblowers are treated in Ukraine even more harshly than spies.

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“Anybody who confesses or is known to be about to confess is shot in the back of the head,” he claimed, adding that “a lot of people go missing … including foreigners.” McIntyre himself managed to flee to Russia through Moldova after finding out that Ukraine had snipers hunting down defectors trying to cross the frontlines.

The former soldier, who previously served in Fort Bliss, Texas, for two years, claims the Ukrainian forces actively use civilians as human shields as they station their troops in basements next to residential buildings and then blame Russia if the area gets targeted in a strike. When such attacks happened, news crews covering the incidents “would not show you the houses to the left and right full of soldiers,” he said.

The former mercenary also said he had heard about the Ukrainian nationalists, including the members of the infamous Azov battalion and another military formation called Carpathian Sech, who torture and kill Russian POWs by cutting off their genitalia or cutting their stomachs open and slitting their throats. McIntyre, who served with the Carpathian Sech, said he personally knew people who executed POWs, including foreigners from Portugal, France, and Argentina.

“It’s funny to them. It’s hatred. They hate the Russian people, they want to kill them, they want to genocide them and remove them from their land,” the man said.

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“And we’re supporting these guys? And these are supposed to be our allies? And we’re supposed to put them in NATO with us? And they can’t even follow Geneva conventions?” the former soldier asked, adding that “this would never fly in America” if it were made known to the public.

The US, however, is directly involved in providing the Ukrainian forces not only with weapons but also intelligence, McIntyre said. The former mercenary revealed he personally knew about a US Navy intelligence officer working with the Ukrainian foreign legion, where McIntyre himself was serving for some time. “He had a satellite phone and computer provided by the CIA. And every day he would call his contacts and he would get information about the positions, troops movements and so on,” the former soldier said.

The weapons and equipment the US sends to Ukraine also often end up on the black market or in the hands of extremists around the world because of rampant corruption there, according to the former mercenary.