‘They were furious’: Russian soldiers who refused to fight in Ukraine: Report 13May 2022

'They were furious': Russian soldiers who refused to fight in Ukraine, Soldiers are saying no to officers, knowing the punishment is mild while.....

'They were furious' Russian soldiers who refused to fight in Ukraine
'They were furious' Russian soldiers who refused to fight in Ukraine

‘They were furious’: Russian soldiers who refused to fight in Ukraine

Soldiers are saying no to officers, knowing the punishment is mild while Russia is not technically at war

When soldiers from an elite Russian Army brigade were asked to prepare for a second deployment to Ukraine in early April, fear spread through the ranks.

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The unit, stationed in Russia’s Far East during peacetime, first entered Ukraine from Belarus when the war broke out in late February and saw close combat with Ukrainian forces.

“It soon became clear that not everyone was with it. Many of us just didn’t want to go back,” said Dmitry, a member of the unit, who asked not to be identified by his real name. I want to return to my family – and not in a coffin.”

Along with eight others, Dimitri told his commanders that he refused to rejoin the invasion. “They were angry. But they eventually calmed down because there was not much they could do,” he said.

He was soon transferred to Belgorod, a Russian city close to the border with Ukraine, from where he is stationed. “I have served in the army for five years. My contract expires in June. I will serve my remaining time and then I will be out of here,” he said. “I have nothing to be ashamed of. We’re not officially at war, so they couldn’t force me to leave.”

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Dmitry’s refusal to fight highlights some of the logistical difficulties the Russian military has faced as a result of the Kremlin’s political decision not to formally declare war on Ukraine – preferring instead to describe the invasion, which soon follows. It will only reach its fourth month, as a “special military campaign”.

Under Russian military rules, soldiers who refuse to fight in Ukraine could face dismissal but cannot be prosecuted, said Mikhail Benyash, a lawyer who advises soldiers who choose that option. are.

Benyash said that “hundreds and hundreds” of soldiers were in contact with his team for advice on how they could avoid being sent to fight. Among them were 12 national guards from Russia’s southern city of Krasnodar who were fired after refusing to go to Ukraine.

“Commanders try to threaten their soldiers to go to jail if they disagree, but we tell soldiers they just can’t say no,” Benyash said, adding that he was not aware of any criminal cases against soldiers. who had refused to fight. “There is no legal basis for initiating a criminal case if a soldier refuses to fight in Russian territory.”

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Therefore, many soldiers have chosen to be fired or relocated rather than going to a “meat grinder,” he said.

A similar account for Dmitry was given to the BBC’s Russian service by Sergei Bokov, a 23-year-old soldier who decided to leave the army in late April after fighting in Ukraine. “Our commanders didn’t even argue with us because we weren’t the first to leave,” Bokov said.

Pointing to Russia’s military laws, Benyash said it would be more difficult for soldiers to refuse to fight if Russia declared a full-scale war. “During war, the rules are completely different. Then refusing would mean a very harsh punishment. They would be looking at time in prison.”

While the exact number of soldiers who refused to fight is unclear, stories such as this suggest that military experts and Western governments are facing one of Russia’s biggest obstacles in Ukraine: a severe shortage of infantry troops.

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According to Western officials, Moscow initially put about 80% of its main ground combat forces – 150,000 men – into battle in February. But that army has suffered significant losses, which have faced military problems, poor morale and an underestimated Ukrainian resistance.

Putin needs to make decisions about mobilization in the coming weeks,” said Rob Lee, a military analyst. “Russia lacks enough ground units with contract troops for permanent rotation. The soldiers are getting tired – they won’t be able to keep it up for long.”

Lee said one option would be for the Kremlin to authorize the deployment of concept units to Ukraine, although Putin had previously pledged that Russia would not use any forces in the war. “Conscripts may fill some gaps, but they will be poorly trained. Many units that are supposed to train are fighting on their own,” Lee said.

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'They were furious' Russian soldiers who refused to fight in Ukraine
‘They were furious’ Russian soldiers who refused to fight in Ukraine

But without a battalion, Russia could soon “struggle to hold the territory currently controlled in Ukraine, especially as Ukraine receives better equipment from NATO,” he said.

Russian officials quietly intensified their efforts to recruit new troops as it became clear that a quick victory in Ukraine was unattainable.

An investigation by the BBC’s Russian Service has revealed that Russia’s defense ministry is flooding employment websites with vacancies that offer opportunities for people without war experience to join the military on lucrative short-term contracts. Some large government-run companies have received letters urging them to sign up their employees for the military.

‘They were furious’: Russian soldiers who refused to fight in Ukraine

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(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by News East India staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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