Why rising numbers of Ukrainian servicemen are refusing to battle on the Donbass frontlines

Ukrainian solders are more and more abandoning their positions and posting movies with complaints about…

Ukrainian solders are more and more abandoning their positions and posting movies with complaints about their command. Why is the variety of desertions growing in the warfare torn nation?

The full help of Western international locations to Ukraine has already exceeded the nation’s army price range for 2022, which was to quantity to $12 billion. And that is with out bearing in mind humanitarian donations from atypical residents all around the world. Very quickly, Ukraine will obtain one other $20 billion for its army wants from the USA.

It will appear that this enormous infusion of funds and relentless provide of weapons from overseas ought to remedy all the issues of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Nonetheless, its troopers are more and more abandoning their positions with out authorization, refusing to go to the frontline in Donbass, and publishing video messages on-line through which they criticize their commanders. On this article, RT appears to be like into why, regardless of overseas assist to Ukraine, the variety of issues involving the deployment of army personnel is rising, and why Ukrainian troopers are deserting increasingly incessantly.

A scandalous invoice submitted by [Ukraine’s parliament] Verkhovna Rada deputy Mariana Bezugla, giving officers the proper to execute servicemen for desertion, was withdrawn on Could 24. Nonetheless, the very look of such an initiative clearly signifies that the issue is actual, and the authorities are sounding the alarm.

Certainly, the items of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Donbass are more and more going through conditions the place logistical help is just non-existent: there is no such thing as a ammunition, meals, or artillery help. A number of movies have lately appeared on the internet which have been posted by the troopers themselves. As a rule, they verify their unauthorized departure from the frontline, whereas explaining their causes. Many of those come from army personnel within the space of Severodonetsk and Lisichansk, the place probably the most brutal battles are at present raging within the Donbass.

Criticism of the Command

Maybe probably the most sensational movies, printed on April 28, contained a message from members of the 79th Airborne Assault Brigade describing the brutality of their commanders. Based on the commandos, the unit was taken to a forest close to the village of Yampol in Donetsk area and left there to die. “We sat there for 5 – 6 days, and the commanders deserted us… And now we’re being made deserters for the truth that we survived… There are numerous corpses nonetheless mendacity there in these pits.” They confused that they’d requested for assist, however the commander gave the order to “go hand-to-hand in opposition to the tanks.” Now, the surviving paratroopers face trials for desertion.

Apparently, after the video was printed, many readers within the Ukrainian phase of the web started to declare that this information was pretend, although even Ukrainian presidential advisor Alexey Arestovich confirmed it. Nonetheless, a second video quickly appeared, recorded by some paratroopers who confirmed the authenticity of the story within the first video and tried to elucidate why they’d appealed to the Ukrainian folks. “I’ll not put on the uniform of this brigade, and half of us guys right here really feel the identical,” mentioned paratrooper Andrey Berezinsky.

Criticism of the command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine by servicemen has not been unusual in current months. The a hundred and fifteenth Territorial Protection Brigade reported that the troopers had not undergone any coaching on tips on how to dig in below artillery and mortar hearth.

Troopers in Severodonetsk recorded a video through which they complained to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Valery Zaluzhny, a few lack of heavy weapons and reinforcements. The troopers decried the incompetence of their commanders, who they mentioned had remained within the rear. “We’re merely being despatched to sure dying. There is no such thing as a fight management, no fight commander, no respect for folks.”

Nonetheless, the army command didn’t admire that demarche and accused all of the troopers of ‘desertion.’ Consequently, a scandal broke out with the participation of the servicemen’s kin, who appealed to the Workplace of the President of Ukraine for assist. “My husband went to warfare as a volunteer, and now he’s sitting below shelling in Severodonetsk.

There’s no command, they’re their very own commanders. And the individuals who left the brigade have been put in jail as deserters. How?! How can they battle with out something? With shovels maybe, or with what?” mentioned one of many army wives. “The a hundred and fifteenth Brigade aren’t deserters! They simply throw them in like cannon fodder. They’re taking up tanks with machine weapons from the 80s. Why are they dying? In order that these sitting in HQ can obtain stars?” one other girl expressed with indignation.

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In early June, Radio France Internationale reported from a location close to Severodonetsk that “decline is brewing” within the Armed Forces of Ukraine because the preventing in Donbass intensifies. “A motion of discontent is rising among the many troopers: they’re more and more complaining a few lack of provides and help from their command,” it famous, including that the troopers close to Lisichansk describe what is occurring on the entrance as “hell on Earth.”

One of many important issues that enormously demoralizes troopers stays provide. Sergeant Roman Ilchenko straight acknowledged to French journalists that “the Russians have artillery, armored automobiles, and their forces are 5 to 6 occasions larger than ours… We solely had machine weapons and RPGs from 1986. A Degtyarov machine gun from 1943. And the Maxim machine gun from 1933. We even have a Swedish transportable NLAW anti-tank missile system, however the battery didn’t work. That is all we had,” Vladimir Kharchuk, a member of the twentieth Battalion, mentioned, describing his final operation. Serviceman Andrey Shevchenko believes that if the Armed Forces of Ukraine doesn’t strengthen its artillery, it received’t be capable of do something.

Earlier, one other main overseas media outlet had reported on the Ukrainian Military’s provide issues. On the finish of Could, The Washington Submit reported on the arrest of Ukrainian firm commander Sergei Lapko, who had lately given an interview to the newspaper.

The officer instructed WaPo concerning the extraordinarily tough state of affairs on the entrance, significantly within the space of Severodonetsk and Lisichansk. The Ukrainian Common Workers, in addition to the chairman of the Lugansk regional Army Administration, Sergey Gaidai, had additionally reported on the tough state of affairs of the Ukrainian army within the Lugansk Area. Certainly, there’s a fixed stream of such messages coming from Ukrainian troopers proper now, however Lapko’s story added numerous particulars to the image of what’s truly occurring.

“Earlier than being despatched to the entrance, we had been handed AK-47 assault rifles and had a coaching session that lasted lower than half an hour. After we had fired 30 bullets, we had been instructed we might not get extra as a result of ammunition is simply too costly,” he mentioned. When his firm was despatched to Donbass, twenty folks refused instantly and had been arrested for desertion. “After we had been coming right here, we had been instructed that we might be within the third line of protection. As an alternative, we went to the zero line, the frontline. We didn’t know the place we had been going.” Of his firm of 120 males, solely 54 remained within the ranks – the remainder both died, had been wounded, or abandoned.

“We see on Ukrainian tv that there are not any losses. It’s not true,” the commander mentioned. He believes the losses are saved secret with a view to protect the morale of troopers and most of the people. The soldier famous that, regardless of all of the difficulties, their troops fought bravely, however the fight had dealt heavy injury to his firm, in addition to to different items within the space. The Washington Submit writes that a lot of the deaths had occurred as a result of wounded troopers weren’t evacuated rapidly sufficient, typically ready 12 hours for transport to the Lisichansk army hospital.

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The soldier touched on relations with the command individually. “Our command doesn’t assume any duty. They take credit score just for our achievements. They don’t give us any help,” he mentioned. He additionally complained about issues with water and poor diet – the servicemen needed to be content material with one potato a day.

A number of hours after the interview was printed, the Safety Service of Ukraine (SBU) detained a number of folks from Lapko’s firm on costs of desertion. The corporate commander himself was suspended from obligation and positioned in a pre-trial detention middle in Lisichansk, and his additional destiny has not been reported. Nonetheless, after his resonant interview, the Ukrainian media started to pay nearer consideration to video messages of troopers describing issues on the entrance.


As with different international locations’ armed forces, there are legislative provisions in Ukraine that maintain army personnel legally answerable for desertion – article 408 of the Legal Code. Furthermore, desertion below martial regulation or in a fight state of affairs gives for pretty harsh punishment – from 5 to 12 years in jail. Nonetheless, these measures haven’t stopped the troopers in some items of the Armed Forces of Ukraine from leaving their positions.

Even within the preliminary interval of the battle, particular person troopers voluntarily left their items. Unable to face up to the tough circumstances, they determined independently to flee from the entrance. The primary instances of group desertion started on the finish of April and had been related to the deterioration of the state of affairs for the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Donbass. At the moment, the Russian Ministry of Protection acknowledged that greater than 860 troopers had abandoned from the items of the Nationwide Guard of Ukraine.

We now have already written a few case when an entire platoon of the a hundred and fifteenth Territorial Protection Brigade appealed to Zelensky and Zaluzhny with a refusal to hold out a fight mission close to Severodonetsk. Later, an analogous assertion was recorded by items of the 58th Brigade and the forty sixth separate rifle battalion. The troopers accused the command of throwing them right into a hopeless state of affairs as cannon fodder with a view to plug probably the most problematic areas of the entrance. They’d been on their technique to Zaporozhye, however ultimately ended up on the entrance close to Popasna – one of many hottest spots in Donbass. They didn’t have heavy weapons, no provides arrived, and the command turned out to be incompetent. Because of this, they suffered heavy losses and needed to retreat from their positions.

Actually on the identical time, one other recording appeared from Donbass, the place the servicemen of the 71st Jaeger Brigade straight refused to hold out an order from their officers to enter the battlefield unarmed in opposition to weapons and howitzers and to shoot it on video. The troopers thought of the order “prison” and left the positions. “We stand with machine weapons in opposition to cannons, Grads, and mortars. Nobody helps us. We don’t have any wise weapons, there may be nothing. How can we battle for a rustic that doesn’t care about us?” complains one of many troopers. “We don’t wish to go into the meat grinder and are available out floor beef. We don’t have tanks, infantry preventing automobiles, weapons…,” a second echoes. On the finish of the enchantment, the fighters added that they solely have a pair dozen mortars and these “solely work after they wish to.”

Zelensky additionally acquired an enchantment from servicemen of unit 7093 hooked up to the Ukrainian Military’s 57th Brigade, who additionally didn’t prefer it on the entrance. They complained a few lack of heavy weapons and the absence of officers, most of whom had died in the course of the preventing round Lugansk. These resonant instances point out that, along with members of territorial protection items, members of standard Ukrainian Military items are additionally withdrawing from their positions. In different phrases, even when the Ukrainian Military has sufficient personnel to type new brigades, it doesn’t have the minimal variety of armored automobiles to provide them, so it’s not possible to create combat-ready formations from the conscripts.

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Protests from the Rear

On the identical time, scandals are jarring the deep rear as effectively. Removed from the fight in Stry within the Lviv Area, the kin of fighters within the sixty fifth battalion of the Territorial Protection’s 103rd Brigade staged a protest after they caught the unit’s commander within the city whereas their males had been preventing on the frontline. They acknowledged that they’d been despatched straight to Donbass, unprepared and with out weapons, as a substitute of defending the Lviv Area.

At a gathering with representatives of the Territorial Protection of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the troopers’ kin demanded that the boys be returned house as a result of, in response to them, they don’t seem to be able to conduct fight. “The unprepared fighters got a machine gun and two grenades and despatched to cease a military that far exceeded our troopers,” Valentina Mamon from Stry complained.

“They went to the entrance of their vehicles, which in addition they needed to refuel themselves. They spent a number of hours in pits with machine weapons. And, most significantly, they shot at their very own retreaters. It’s good that there have been no casualties. When the volunteers introduced in walkie-talkies, the battalion headquarters took them away,” added Galina Sidor. Lots of the ladies additionally say that unprepared fighters had been thrown in to cease the enemy “with their naked arms.”

Protests have additionally unfold to a different area in western Ukraine –Transcarpathia. In Khust, ladies attacked a army commissar for the truth that their males had been despatched to Donbass with out bulletproof vests or helmets. They accused the army enlistment workplace of violations and bribery. Based on their data, you may get out of being despatched to Donbass for $3,000.

There have additionally been claims that folks with continual coronary heart illness or bronchial asthma are being despatched to the entrance. “On what foundation had been these unprepared folks, who didn’t move the medical examination, being conscripted and despatched to the entrance? Particularly my husband, who’s had a coronary heart assault and desires a coronary heart transplant,” mentioned Inna Salautina, the spouse of one of many servicemen within the a hundred and first Territorial Protection Brigade.

Nonetheless, Ukraine’s Ministry of Protection is in no hurry to confess its errors, though earlier the ministry mentioned it could not ship folks to the entrance with out prior coaching. On the identical time, the command notes that sending territorial protection troops to Donbass from the nation’s western areas is authorized.

“There’s an present regulation, amended on January 27, in response to which, by order of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Territorial Protection battalions will be concerned in performing duties exterior their areas on sure grounds” mentioned Vitaly Kupri, adviser to the Commander of the Territorial Protection Forces.


Quite a few instances of desertion and complaints about provides, together with losses and voluntary surrenders, point out that the Armed Forces of Ukraine on the protection in Donbass are experiencing nice issues. Movies are more and more showing from the frontline through which troopers verify that they’re deserting. Clearly, the state of affairs for the Armed Forces of Ukraine on this area suffers when positions are deserted with out authorization. Regardless of overseas assist, with the prolongation of hostilities, such instances are prone to develop into increasingly widespread, as fatigue, financial issues, in addition to corruption, make themselves felt.

Petr Lavrenin is а political journalist, professional on Russia and the previous Soviet Union.