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Exhausted Russian militants complain about conditions in eastern Ukraine

Date: October 2, 2022 Time: 19:29:51

The attack on eastern Ukraine has brought Russia some successes on the battlefield as its forces slowly advance in the fierce fighting in the Donbas. But these gains have come at a heavy cost to the Russian invasion force: there is evidence that senior casualties are mounting, some units may be close to exhaustion, and the war has been going on for more than 100 days.

As the conflict drags on, some militants have publicly called on Vladimir Putin to look into the situation on the battlefield and find out if sending them to the front is legal.

In two videos, soldiers in Russian-controlled eastern Ukraine complain about poor conditions and long stays at the front, leading to exhaustion. “Our personnel were hungry and cold,” soldiers of the Russian-controlled 113th Donetsk Regiment said in a video posted online. “We were left without material, medical and food support for a significant time,” they complain.

Mobilization by people, cellobit “to the king”, favorites pic.twitter.com/bCsP6HT19n

— Igor Girkin (@GirkinGirkin) June 2, 2022

“Given our constant presence and the fact that we have people with chronic diseases, people with mental problems in our state, there are many issues that are ignored by the authorities in the barracks,” they lament.

“It’s tiresome”

In an interview with The Guardian, a Russian soldier who fought near Kyiv, Kharkov and is now in eastern Ukraine complains of exhaustion. He says that he even contacted a lawyer and regrets that he did not see his wife for several months.

“I have been fighting in Ukraine since the beginning of the war; We’ve been here for more than three months now,” says Andrey, who serves in the 37th Special Forces Guards Motor Rifle Brigade based in Buryatia, Siberia. “It’s tiring, my whole unit wants to take a break, but our superiors say they can’t replace us right now,” he explains.

His comments are consistent with reports of Russia’s difficulty with the rotation of exhausted troops. By not openly declaring war on Ukraine, Russia faced difficulties enrolling. The Kremlin insists on calling it a “special military operation.”

“The Russian armed forces are ready for short, intense campaigns, defined by intensive use of artillery,” wrote Michael Kofman and Rob Lee in their analysis of Russia’s weapons capabilities. “On the contrary, it is ill-suited for a long-term occupation or a stalemate war of attrition, which would require a large share of the Russian ground forces, which is precisely [tipo de] conflict in which he was involved. The Russian army does not have the necessary size to easily adjust or rotate its forces in case a significant part of its combat power is related to the war, ”they said.

For soldiers on the ground, this resulted in a grueling service marked by fierce fighting against a battle-hardened enemy motivated to defend their homeland.

“Three months of fighting is already more than the four years that I spent in the army in peacetime,” Andrei says. “I already contacted a lawyer online and he told me that by law the general can keep us here until our contract expires, so we don’t have much to do,” he says.

These professional units may be among the luckiest in Russia, as other fighters from the self-proclaimed Russian-controlled republics in Donetsk and Luhansk say they were thrown into combat with little training. Some of the videos show some of the soldiers lacking basic equipment, such as protective vests, and armed with old-fashioned rifles.

“Our mobilization took place illegally, without a medical certificate,” says another soldier who claims to be in the 107th Donetsk Regiment, which is loyal to the Russian government. “Earlier, they removed from service more than 70% of those who are here, because they are physically unable to fight. More than 90% have never fought before and have seen a Kalashnikov assault rifle for the first time. We were thrown to the front line,” he says.

Russian state television says these soldiers must be ready to fight for their homeland, but locals speak of empty streets and people hiding to avoid overzealous recruitment in Russian-controlled areas of eastern Ukraine.

casualties among officers

Meanwhile, losses among Russian officers are growing. A correspondent for the state television and radio company Rossiya-1 reported that Major General Roman Kutuzov was killed while leading troops in combat in the Russian-controlled east. If confirmed, it would be at least the fourth Russian general killed in action since February, and Ukraine says the number is higher.

“The general led the soldiers into the attack, as if there weren’t enough colonels,” Russian journalist Alexander Sladkov wrote on Telegram.

Several Western officials have said that Russia has also suffered serious losses among its junior and middle officers “because they demand uncompromising responsibility from them for the actions of their units.”

“Something similar is happening to junior officers who have had to direct lower-level tactical actions because the army lacks a cadre of highly trained and experienced non-commissioned officers who fill this role in Western forces,” British intelligence said last week. pass.

Since the beginning of the war, Russia has also used mercenary fighters to reinforce its troops. A European source estimates that in April it deployed between 10,000 and 20,000 mercenaries, including Wagner Group fighters, in its advance into the Donbass.

These units also recorded high casualties. In early June, Vladimir Andanov, a veteran of the Wagner Group from Buryatia, was killed in action in eastern Ukraine. Regional media and Russian military organizations confirmed his death. Previously, he fought in Syria and the Donbass, where he was accused of involvement in extrajudicial executions.

Last month, two suspected Wagner Group operatives from Belarus were accused of killing civilians near Kyiv, making them the first foreign mercenaries to be charged with war crimes in Ukraine.

Translated by Maria Torrens Tillach.

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