Russian Soldiers Refuse To Fight as Morale Deteriorating, Ukraine Says

Ukraine has said that disillusioned Russian troops are refusing to fight in the war.

The claim by the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces comes amid numerous reports of low morale among Russian troops over the six weeks since the start of the conflict.

Ukraine's military said on Thursday that some Russian units had been placed in tent towns on Russian territory bordering Ukraine and that "soldiers are refusing to participate in further combat in Ukraine."

"The moral and psychological condition of the said personnel is low and tends to deteriorate," its daily update on Facebook said, according to a translation.

It added that Russian forces were continuing to try to replenish their units. They were looking to enlist those who had been discharged from military service after 2012, with a focus on those with certain skills such as drivers, mechanics, and junior commanders.

The Ukrainian general staff did not give evidence for the claims and Newsweek has contacted the Ukrainian and Russian defense ministries for comment.

However, since the war began on February 24, there have been growing numbers of reports of a low mood among Russian troops and videos shared on social media of them angry at the way they had been sent into a theater of conflict plagued by fuel and food shortages.

The Pentagon has said that entire Russian units, some full of young conscripts, laid down their weapons rather than fight Ukraine's forces. Some Russian troops have surrendered en masse or even sabotaged their own vehicles.

Last month, a video went viral of troops who said they were being sent from the Donbas region into the Sumy region in northeastern Ukraine with no clear plan from Moscow.

A separate video from an undisclosed location showed a Russian soldier complaining that he and his colleagues have been abandoned as "cannon fodder" by their superiors.

This week it was reported that at least 11 members of Russia's Rosgvardia National Guard from the Khakassia region of southern Siberia refused to participate in the war because as a force that protects public order, separate from the military, they argued they should not be sent to Ukraine.

Russian-language news outlet New Focus said that the group was removed from a border camp and sent back to Khakassia, where the military leadership tried to dismiss them for their refusal to fight.

The group's lawyer, Mikhail Benyash, told the Financial Times that "a lot of people don't want to go and fight" and that about 1,000 people had been in touch with him since the case became public.

Russian tank
A destroyed Russian military vehicle is seen on a street in Bucha, Ukraine on April 06, 2022. Ukraine's armed forces have said that Russian troops are refusing to fight. Chris McGrath/Getty Images