Ukrainian soldiers fire a Pion artillery system on Russian positions near Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine. Photo / AP
Videos and messages from inside Putin’s army show soldiers disheveled, running and struggling to find their teams.
Russians sent to fight on the frontlines are mutiny, fighting among themselves, locked in cellars and lost in the chaos of the faltering invasion, a flurry of videos and messages from inside Vladimir Putin’s army show .
Recently mobilized troops are refusing orders to face “certain death” by engaging in “human wave” attacks, which they say are destroying entire units at a time.
Some are appealing directly to Putin in desperate videos, while others sent Kremlin officials to quell the rebellion.
Reports are emerging of fighters being locked underground for refusing to be targets in the “shooting range” that has become the front line.
Meanwhile, the Russian military has been forced to form a new unit to house all “lost” soldiers who have deserted, fled or are struggling to find their teams.
According to a tally by Russian media outlet Verstka, soldiers from at least 16 different regions recorded video messages since early February to blame commanders for trying to use them in “human wave” attacks.
The Russian tactic of sending “human waves” of poorly trained and poorly armed fighters into the line of fire to overwhelm the opposition has become increasingly common, according to military observers.
The appeals come as Ukraine’s military is reporting Russian losses – ranging from 590 to more than 1,000 men a day. Russia’s long-awaited offensive is believed to have largely stalled amid fierce fighting to take the small town of Bakhmut.
The most striking recent call for help from soldiers came from a group of men who called in from the Irkutsk region of eastern Siberia.
The man said he and his comrades were sent into the occupied Donetsk region, ostensibly to be a patrol force – only to find they were involved in one of the infamous human wave attacks outside the town of Avdivka. Were about to happen who were overwhelming the Ukrainian army.
“We have been sent only for the slaughter. Commanders are telling us that we are disposable soldiers and our only chance to go back home is to get injured in battle,” said the soldier.
“The commanders don’t care about our lives. We are asking for help. We have no one else to turn to.
According to open-source head Ruslan Leviev, a large number of complaints are likely to be linked to Russia’s offensive outside Avdeevka, just as the previous wave of discontent in October and November coincided with Russia’s attacks outside Vuhladar and Kremina. I had come The Group Conflict intelligence team that has been tracking Russian troops since the first Russian incursion into Ukraine in 2014.
“We don’t know how much of this dissent has remained unreported, but those videos most likely refer to the widely reported use of ‘human wave attacks’ by the Ukrainian military,” Leviev said. Wire,
Soldiers often hide their faces behind balaclavas and rarely speak to reporters, fearing the publicity will turn against them or their families.
In another widely shared video, filmed in pitch black darkness, a Russian man with a camouflage jacket over his head can be seen reading from a piece of paper lit by a torch sitting in his lapel pocket. goes:
“Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin], this is a plea for men mobilized from the Irkutsk region. We are asking you to look into the illegal and criminal orders of our commanders and take action,” the man says, asking Putin to stop sending former citizens like himself to their deaths.
He says that his predecessor’s unit which made a similar appeal was “almost completely wiped out”.
After four pleas from the 1439th Regiment, female relatives of the men recorded a desperate video late last week, asking Putin, “our only hope”, to “save our men”.
“The commanders have released them and told them not to leave their posts. Our men have been without food or water for days, but are surviving the constant shelling,” said the women crowded on a beige sofa in the sparsely furnished living room, one of them crying and covering her face with a shawl .
In response, Russia’s Defense Ministry released a video of a masked soldier who said he was from Irkutsk and was willing to serve.
People from Baikal, an Irkutsk media outlet in exile, was able to trace the men’s relatives after posting desperate pleas on local social media groups that were later deleted.
The wife of one of the men who filed the appeal described him as a “patriot who respected Putin and thought he was doing everything right in Ukraine”.
The woman’s husband, who was called up in September and ended up in Donetsk in November, told her about the grim reality he had to face in eastern Ukraine.
,[The commander] was sending them to the slaughter: shot to death like people in a shooting range. They were alone in the minefield, without any air support or any reinforcement,” said the wife, whose identity was withheld.
There are reports of complete disarray in the Russian ranks, even from pro-Kremlin sources.
Rybar, one of Russia’s most popular pro-war Telegram channels, acknowledged in a lengthy piece earlier this week that the country’s military faces a problem of soldiers who “get lost.”
An unknown number of soldiers are wandering the front lines in search of their units after being discharged from the hospital or after losing their comrades in battle.
“Sometimes things get absurd: a person can wander around the front line for weeks, trying to find his unit, while at the same time the enlistment office has already listed him as a deserter,” Rieber said, attributing it to “chaos” and a breakdown. In communication within the military.
The Defense Ministry is also working to set up special units that will collect all “lost” soldiers before figuring out where to send them next.
Recently, Russian crusaders recruited to fight also began to rebel.
Media outlet Ostorozhno Novosti published a video earlier this week purportedly showing the convicts being thrown into a dungeon outside Donetsk for refusing to obey orders.
The men said that only 11 of their unit of 71 had survived.
An unidentified person said, “The Ministry of Defense should be aware and responsible for us, but perhaps they have no idea.”
At first, it was the infamous private military contractor Wagner, owned by ex-convict Yevgeny Prigozhin, that began recruiting convicts to Russian prisons, but late last year, Russia’s Defense Ministry reportedly asked Wagner for its pushed to take place.
“The army has no idea how to deal with these people,” said Olga Romanova, head of the prisoner rights group Russia Behind Bars. Wire,
“You can imagine a group of prisoners, some in their 30s and 40s, some of them repeat offenders, often convicted of violent crimes, who have very poor social skills and a lack of military discipline. have vague ideas about – and they get some young officers straight out of military college as their commanders.
In what is arguably the most desperate appeal to date, the mobilized men of the 1004th Regiment are seen confronting a commander who has been sent from his native Kaliningrad to respond to a brewer’s insurrection.
The men, watched from behind, shouted at the visiting commander that they had been used as “meat” and refused to go on the attack.
“Why should I fight there? Why? For whom? They are sending us to certain death,” one man shouted.
“Get us in jail! How much is this for? five, seven, 10? I do not care. At least I will get to live.”
The soldiers’ appeal also highlights apparent friction between Russian troops in Donetsk and local militants, who have been fighting against Ukrainian government troops since 2014.
Kaliningrad recruits, like the men from Irkutsk, claimed that separatist commanders from Donetsk had refused to “suck” ammunition to support them, as one man said they had not been given proper equipment or weapons .
“We get out of there [to the front line] Whereas [the Donetsk men] Just sit shamelessly with all the equipment, night vision and stuff,” he said.
Leviev, of the Conflict Intelligence Team, says the Donetsk militants, who have been drawing down on local recruits, are increasingly resentful of the Russian arrival.
“There can be a certain grudge that the DNR people were used as cannon fodder for eight years and later forced into a peace treaty – now the Russians have disappointed the separatists who had been hoping for eight years [Russia] Will grind the Ukrainian army to dust.
The men’s complaints echo a UK Ministry of Defense report earlier this week that suggested supply shortages, as it said mobilized reservists were sent to fight with firearms and shovels.
Officers in the men’s native areas are often trying to defuse the protests by dividing the men into separate units or sending them to the rear.
So far, although the pleas are desperate, Russia has yet to see a real wave of defections that would have an impact on its defense capabilities.
“Such draconian appeals are still quite rare,” Leviev said.
“The frequency and volume of those complaints still haven’t been enough to make Russian commanders abandon the strategy of human wave attacks.”