A Russian soldier inspects the damage at a field hospital that was reportedly destroyed by rebel shelling in the Furqan neighbourhood of the government-held side of west Aleppo George Ourfalian/ AFP

A Russian soldier defected to Lithuania to escape Vladimir Putin's war against Ukraine. The soldier, identified as Ivan Korolev, illegally crossed into the country seeking political asylum on Thursday.

According to a BBC report, Korolev was a lieutenant in the Russian army. He was detained by border guards at a checkpoint in Vilnius.

He told the publication that he took the step because he no longer wanted to be a part of Russia's "bloody war" with Ukraine.

"I participated in the [special military operation] but remained on the territory of the Russian Federation this whole time. I have not been on Ukrainian territory. We supplied Russian troops with ammunition. We took ammunition from all over Russia, from all parts, from all arsenals, and distributed it to brigades, units directly in Ukraine," he said.

He has since been moved to a migration centre in Pabradė. According to local authorities, his asylum application is being processed.

Korolev is not the first Russian soldier to have defected in the past year. A former senior lieutenant, Konstantin Yefremov, also fled the country earlier this year. He claimed that he managed to escape Russia with the help of a human rights organisation called

Yefremov said that he had tried to resign from the Russian Army but was sent to fight in Ukraine. Russian paratrooper Pavel Filatyev defected last year because he was "disgusted with the war." He later published a 141-page memoir detailing his time in Ukraine.

"Every person in Russia knows this. We have been lied to for many years, and, unfortunately, now the same thing is happening in the war," he told CBS News in an interview last year.

Several media reports have said that there has been a decline in the morale of Russian troops as the war in Ukraine drags on. According to a report in The Moscow Times, more than 30,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in Ukraine since the start of the war in February 2022.

A report by UK Intelligence claimed that Putin's troops are likely using shovels for "hand-to-hand" combat because Russia is seeing an ammunition shortage. The UK's Ministry of Defence claimed that the Russian troops were ordered to carry out an attack on a Ukrainian position "armed with only 'firearms and shovels" in February this year.

It has been more than a year since Russia invaded Ukraine. The war has dragged on with no immediate end in sight. In the last few months, Russian forces have seen significant setbacks in some regions.

According to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), Ukrainian forces are continuing to inflict high casualties against advancing Russian forces. Thousands of soldiers have lost their lives on both sides since the beginning of the war. Russia has had to resort to mass conscription to increase its military strength.

It called up around 300,000 reservists to fight in the war in September last year. It was the first time since World War II that reservists were called up to fight.

Tens of thousands of military-age men had taken to the streets to hold demonstrations against the order. But that did not deter Putin from going ahead with the plan. The setbacks in the war, international condemnation, and isolation have been unable to force Putin to stop the war that has claimed thousands of lives.

Recently, a report by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) claimed that Russian soldiers were turning to alcohol and "self-mutilation" to escape the front lines. The ISW made the claims, citing Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Defense Hanna Malyar. The minister said that the Russian forces are increasingly engaging in alcohol abuse.

"In addition, we know of cases of deliberate self-mutilation by representatives of the Russian military and cases of suicide," Malyar added.