Russia 'Will Lose' Say Panicked Soldiers as They Refuse To Fight Ukraine

Russia "will lose" its war against Ukraine, panicked soldiers from a Kremlin-backed breakaway region in Georgia who fought for Russia in Ukraine said after they retreated from the front line.

The group of South Ossetian soldiers made the remarks to the region's president, Anatoly Bibilov, after returning from combat, complaining about a lack of weapons, intel, and command. An excerpt of their conversation was obtained by Russian independent media outlet MediaZona.

South Ossetia is a breakaway region in Georgia whose independence was recognized by Moscow in 2008.

An unknown number of residents have been deployed to fight for Russia in Ukraine. Two groups of soldiers, which include members of part of Russian military units in the region, and local contract soldiers, were deployed on March 16 and March 26, according to U.S.-based website Eurasianet.

Russian solider in Shchastya
In this picture taken on April 13, 2022, a Russian soldier stands guard at the Luhansk power plant in the town of Shchastya. Panicked soldiers from a Kremlin-backed breakaway region in Georgia have said they believe Russia "will lose" its war against Ukraine. ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images

In late March, some 300 soldiers from the breakaway region refused to fight in Ukraine amid deteriorating conditions and supply shortages, MediaZona reported.

The news outlet cited Bibilov as asking the group of soldiers who returned to the region whether they believed that Russia will ultimately lose the Ukraine war.

"Yes, we think they will lose," one soldier responded.

Others described unbearable conditions of service, broken equipment and lack of command on the front line.

The South Ossetian soldiers recalled the moment they were deployed to areas 800 kilometers (500 miles) away from where they were supposed to be.

They also told Bibilov that artillery fire missed targets by 2 kilometers (one-and-a-quarter miles), but officers in command brushed off complaints of incorrect coordinates, while troops faced constant shelling due to inadequate battlefield intel.

Bibilov at one point appeared to criticize the soldiers for requesting weapons.

"You probably don't know this, but a lot of guys have already come to me, asking to be sent [to the front], and they're not talking about money or 'Give us weapons,'" he told the group.

'Cannon Fodder'

One soldier claimed that 99 percent of the equipment they were given did not work, while another said three out of 10 tanks could not shoot.

"We warned: our machines don't work, don't send us there [to the front]. From another squadron, the guys said that their guns weren't able to shoot. They were ordered, 'Just go,'" the soldier recounted.

One soldier said, "We were deceived at every one was scared here, we were just deceived at every turn."

Another said the soldiers left Ukraine because they did not want to be "cannon fodder."

The British Defense Ministry in an intelligence update on Monday gave insight into equipment losses on the Russian side. The ministry said it is likely that more than a quarter of the Kremlin's battalion tactical groups assisting with the Ukraine war have been "rendered combat ineffective."

"Some of Russia's most elite units, including the VDV Airborne Forces, have suffered the highest levels of attrition," the update said. "It will probably take years for Russia to reconstitute these forces."

Bibilov challenged the soldiers for saying that they believe Moscow will eventually be defeated by Ukraine.

"The Russians have seen a lot of wars, Napoleon reached Moscow and, in order not to surrender Moscow, the Russians burned their own city. Never think that the Russians will lose," Bibilov told the group.

"Time will pass and no one will discuss that there were no weapons, equipment, communications. There will be a victory," he added.

Newsweek has contacted Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs for comment.

Update 05/04/22, 6:29 a.m. ET: This article was updated with additional information.