Russia Embeds Spies in Military Units to Identify Rebellion, Report Says

Russia is reportedly implanting informants into one of its military regiments so it can identify and "neutralize" the soldiers who refuse to carry out orders in Ukraine.

The Main Directorate of Intelligence of Ukraine's Defense Ministry issued a report Wednesday—which cites Ukraine's military intelligence—on resistance to orders in Russia's 70th Guards Motorized Rifle Regiment. The intelligence service said the Federal Security Service department of Russia's 58th Combined Arms Army "decided to fill the units of the 70th Regiment with their freelance agents and informants."

The directorate did not specify where and how it obtained this information. Newsweek reached out to Russia's Defense Ministry for confirmation of the report.

Several reports in recent weeks have described resistance and rebellion among Russian troops in Ukraine, as well as deteriorating morale. These problems could place additional strain on Russia's military offensive, which is reportedly losing ground in some parts of Ukraine. Russia does not appear to have publicly addressed the reports about its fighting forces.

Russian Servicemen Patrol Mariupol
Russian servicemen patrol the destroyed part of the Ilyich Iron and Steel Works in Ukraine's port city of Mariupol on May 18, 2022, amid the ongoing Russian military action in Ukraine. OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin did score a victory in long-besieged Mariupol this week after hundreds of Ukrainian fighters at the city's Azovstal steel plant surrendered. But the report from Ukraine's Defense Ministry indicates that Russia is also fighting a battle against dissatisfaction within its own ranks.

"The Russian occupiers are increasingly refusing to carry out the orders of the command to conduct active offensive operations on the territory of Ukraine," the report read.

It added that several units from the 70th regiment "have already openly refused to take part in the war and demanded that they be returned to their places of permanent deployment."

"Unit commanders are trying to hide the facts of disobedience," the report said.

The Russian servicemen who have been "most active" in calling for their return to Russia were sent to the "most dangerous part" of the war front, the intelligence service said.

Outside of the 70th regiment, some Russian soldiers reportedly feel as if they are being used as "cannon fodder" and want to leave the war, according to calls and messages Ukraine has said it intercepted from Russian troops and commanders.

Russia Reportedly Implanting Spies in Military
Russia is allegedly implanting informants into one of its military regiments so that it can identify and “neutralize” the soldiers who initiated open refusal to carry out orders in Ukraine. Above, a Russian serviceman interacts with a bear at the zoo in Ukraine's port city of Mariupol on May 18, 2022. Olga Maltseva/AFP via Getty Images

Despite these problems in his military and continuing losses on the ground, Putin signaled his commitment to continuing with the "special military operation" in Ukraine during Moscow's Victory Day celebrations last week. Russia celebrates Victory Day on May 9 to commemorate its defeat of Nazi Germany.

​​"We will never forget what our ancestors did in World War II, which killed more than 8 million Ukrainians. Very soon there will be two Victory Days in Ukraine. And someone won't have any," Putin said during a speech. "We won then. We will win now."

Newsweek also reached out to Ukraine's Defense Ministry for comment.