Russian Troops Say They're Being 'Sent to the Slaughter' in Video to Putin

Russian troops fighting in Ukraine have said they are being sent "to the slaughter" in a recorded message for President Vladimir Putin.

Mobilized soldiers from the Siberian region of Irkutsk said they had been sent into battle "without any support," including weaponry, ammunition and intelligence, according to independent Russian investigative outlet, The Insider.

Putin announced a partial mobilization for the war effort in September 2022. On February 5, 2023, the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) think tank suggested Putin had delayed mobilization plans despite a "depleted military."

"Putin is evidently reticent to announce a second wave of mobilization," the think tank said, owing to the "extreme unpopularity of the first wave of mobilization." Putin's reluctance to publicly order a second wave may indicate a preference for "silent mobilization," the ISW added.

But the mobilized Irkutsk soldiers, reported to have initially served as territorial defense troops before moving to a brigade in the highly contested Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, said they were sent into battle "without preparation," according to The Insider.

The fighters were ordered to storm the Donetsk city of Avdiivka in "assault units." Avdiivka has been the focus of Russian offensive operations in recent weeks, and Ukraine's General Staff reported on Sunday that the country's armed forces had repelled attacks on the city over the past 24 hours.

Russian Soldiers Donetsk
Russian soldiers patrol a street on April 11, 2022, in Volnovakha in the Donetsk region. Russian fighters in the eastern Donbas region were sent in to storm the contested city of Avdiivka "without preparation," one soldier said in a video. Alexander NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images

Russian forces made "marginal territorial gains" around Avdiivka, the ISW said on Saturday.

The mobilized Russian soldiers, under orders from separatist commanders from the Donetsk region, were "sent to storm the Avdiivka fortified area without any support, artillery, communications, sappers, or reconnaissance," one unnamed fighter told the Russian outlet.

They were sent "to the slaughter," he added.

The soldier described an attitude of Russian soldiers being expendable in the minds of anonymous commanders, with sustaining injuries being the only option of getting home alive.

"The command directly says that we are all consumables and the only chance to return home is to get injured," the soldier is quoted as saying in the video.

"We don't know the names and ranks of the commanders, since they don't tell us them."

The true death toll of Russian soldiers in Ukraine is unknown. However, an estimate from the British defense ministry on February 17 put the number of Russian military and mercenary fighters killed at up to 60,000.

The number of Russian casualties may have reached 200,000, the government department added. The casualty rate "significantly increased" after September's partial mobilization, it said.

Moscow has only issued two official updates on the Russian death toll in Ukraine. The first came in March, and then in September 2022, and the defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, said 5,937 Russian soldiers had been killed since February.

On the same day in September, Ukraine's General Staff said Moscow had lost 55,110 troops since February 24. In an updated count on Sunday, Ukraine said 148,130 Russian soldiers had been killed since February 2022, although this figure is higher than many Western estimates.

Newsweek has reached out to the Russian defense ministry for comment.