Russian Soldiers Refuse to Fight Putin's Ukraine War—Report

At least 11 members of Russia's Rosgvardia National Guard in the Khakassia region have refused to participate in Russian President Vladimir Putin's Ukraine war, according to reports.

According to New Focus, a Russian-language news outlet based in the Russian region of Khakassia in southern Siberia, the group personally told a high-ranking general of Rosgvardia—the National Guard which mainly has a policing role in Russia—that they were unwilling to participate in the invasion.

They were reportedly subsequently removed from a border camp and sent back to Khakassia, where leadership attempted to dismiss the group for being "unfit for the position."

The 11 Rosgvardia members are prepared to challenge the decisions of the leadership, according to the publication.

Newsweek is attempting to verify the information.

According to the news outlet, special forces believe the command is trying to hide information from the Kremlin about the real losses of Russian troops in Ukraine, in particular, about the death of many Siberian security forces in Putin's so-called "special military operation" in Ukraine.

Special forces were reportedly ordered by commanders to remain silent about the wounded, and about day-to-day operations in Ukraine. Members were instructed not to share details even with their families.

The publication noted that the figures were "alarmed and frightened" of the consequences they could face, particularly after 12 national guardsmen in Krasnodar were fired for refusing to go to war in Ukraine, and filed wrongful dismissal suits.

Mikhail Benyash, a Russian lawyer who said he would defend the 12 national guardsmen, said about 1,000 people have contacted his team.

"A lot of people don't want to go and fight," Benyash told the Financial Times in an article published on Friday.

Human rights lawyer Pavel Chikhov said in a post on the Telegram messaging service that Captain Farid Chitav and 11 of his Rosgvardia subordinates refused to invade Ukraine on February 25, arguing that the orders were "illegal."

"None of them was informed about a business trip to the territory of Ukraine to participate in a special military operation, nor about the tasks and conditions of this operation, and as a result, they did not give consent to it," Chikhov wrote.

According to Meduza, an independent Latvia-based Russian-language news outlet, at least seven members of Russia's National Guard have been killed in combat since Putin launched his invasion of neighboring Ukraine on February 24.

Just last week, a viral video appeared apparently showing angry Russian soldiers complaining that they were ill-equipped and ordered to go into a region of Ukraine with no clear planning from Moscow.

Estimates vary over the number of Russian troop losses so far, with Kyiv claiming it could be as high as 16,000. Russia's forces have also been hit by a loss of commanders, and Kyiv claiming that more than half a dozen generals have been killed.

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

Follow our live blog for updates on the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Russian National Guard (Rosgvardia)
Russian police and National Guard (Rosgvardia) servicemen patrol Red Square in central Moscow on October 20, 2021, amid the crisis linked with the Covid-19 pandemic. At least 11 members of Russia’s Rosgvardia National Guard in the Khakassia region refused to participate in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Ukraine war, according to reports. ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images