Russian Troops Deserting Posts As Kyiv Makes Use of U.S. Weapons: Pentagon

The Pentagon has said in a statement that Russian morale seems to be running low in the ongoing Ukraine war, amid reports of soldiers at all levels deserting their posts or refusing to fight. It also said Kyiv is making "excellent use" of American-built Phoenix Ghost unmanned aerial systems, as well as other weapons it has sent to the besieged country.

In the statement, an unnamed senior military official said that Russian advances in eastern Ukraine were slow and costly, and there was evidence that Russian morale was low.

"We continue to see increased signs of discipline and morale problems in the Russian army," the official said. "The Ukrainian will continues to be incredibly strong. And what we're seeing is that will kind of…push the Russians around pretty decently."

The official pointed out the many reports that detail Russian soldiers at all levels deserting posts or refusing to fight.

Ukraine troops
Ukrainian soldiers clean a tank gun near Kharkiv on July 23, 2022. The morale of Russian troops in Ukraine seems to be running low amid reports of soldiers at all levels deserting their posts or refusing to fight. Sergey Bobok/AFP/Getty

"We continue to see that in reflections and conversations with Ukrainians that affirm that," the military official said.

The United States is committed to send as many as 580 Phoenix Ghost drones to Ukraine as part of a $270 million package the Pentagon announced on Friday.

Phoenix Ghost tactical unmanned aircraft systems are drones that fit inside a rucksack and can hang in the air for up to six hours before honing in on a target and destroying it. The weapon's ability to stay in the air for long periods of time mean that it is known as "a loitering munition." The drones have infrared guidance, allowing them to operate at night and destroy medium-armored targets.

Defense News reported that the technology was developed by the U.S. specifically for use in Ukraine.

"The Ukrainians have been making excellent use of the Phoenix Ghost system," a senior defense official, who was also unnamed, said in the statement released by the Pentagon on Monday. "This action allows us to go out and procure from industry additional capability."

"That's where USAI is different from drawdown—this is actually a procurement action. And with the Phoenix Ghost system, what we'll be able to do is ensure steady deliveries of this capability starting in August to ensure that the Ukrainian Armed Forces have a continual supply of this capability."

The U.S. is also sending more High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and further ammunition. The new package will mean Ukraine will have a total of 16 HIMARS, a weapon Western officials claim has been remarkably effective in the war so far.

The U.S. government said it has provided $4.6 billion in assistance to Ukraine since the start of the war and approved an additional $40 billion, which includes four M142 high-mobility artillery rocket systems.

Newsweek has contacted the Russian foreign ministry for comment.