Russian Troops Film Appeal to Putin: 'We Do Not Know Who Our Commander Is'

Video that purportedly shows Russian troops expressing discontent about the lack of a chain of command has been widely viewed online.

Ukrainian internal affairs advisor, Anton Gerashchenko, tweeted a clip he said showed mobilized Russian troops expressing a range of complaints as they stood in the snow in an undisclosed location.

In front of the group stands one soldier reading out a statement appealing to both Vladimir Putin and Alexander Burkov, who is governor of Russia's Omsk region, whose capital city of the same name was where they were mobilized from.

The soldier says that the group is from the 504th tank regiment, which trained as artillerymen in Omsk before being sent to the Chelyabinsk Oblast town of Chebarkul for further preparation at an artillery range.

Upon their return to Omsk additional training that they were expecting was not provided and he said the regiment was sent to eastern Ukraine on January 5. After arriving in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic all its personnel were dispersed into different groups.

"Communication with our command broke down," he said. "The only officer who stayed with us, the chief of artillery, said, 'I am not your commander,'" and that the 504th regiment had been disbanded and had been told "we now belong to the Donetsk People's Republic Army."

He said that they were then retrained as infantry but after several trips to a firing range were asked for money to pay for gas. Failure to pay meant being sent to the front line. The soldier added that their military cards were collected and stamped without any date, order number or commander's signature.

Ukrainian troops in Donetsk
Ukrainian soldiers are pictured outside Bakhmut in Ukraine's Donetsk Oblast on January 18, 2023. Video purportedly showing Russian troops has been shared on social media showing them complain that they do not know who their commander is. Getty Images

"We do not know who our commander is and what unit we belong to," he said, adding that there was "no communication" between his regimental commander and the chief of staff, who is a lieutenant colonel.

Next to the video, which as of Monday morning had been viewed more than 75,000 times, Geraschchenko wrote: "Russian mobilized men complain: either money for gas or to the front lines.

"Today marks 162 years since slavery was canceled in Russia but they probably haven't heard about it," he added in the post on Sunday, referring to Tsar Alexander II's 1861 emancipation of Russia's serfs.

Newsweek has contacted the Russian defense ministry for comment.

The video has emerged following months of reports of low morale among Russian troops and a huge reported spike in casualties among those fighting for Vladimir Putin.

On Monday, British defense officials said that Russia has suffered many casualties, particularly in Bakhmut, as well as Vuhledar. The high losses among the "elite 155th and 40th Naval Infantry Brigades are likely to have made them "combat ineffective" the officials said.