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Putin Has Problem: His New Ukraine Soldiers Have No Weapons

Image of Ukraine tank firing. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
Image of Ukraine tank firing. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

The war in Ukraine is a massive disaster for Russian President Putin, and many are offering up the idea he may not be able to hold on to power. And with good reason, as many of his newly drafted soldiers don’t even have weapons to fight with. 

The sister of a Russian soldier deployed to Ukraine said that troops were suffering huge casualties, were given no weapons, and were expected to dig trenches with their bare hands.

Hundreds of recently mobilized Russian soldiers have died on the front line in Ukraine’s Luhansk region, according to Russian news outlets, following three days of shelling by the Ukrainian army.

On Sunday, TV Rain, a Russian-language independent television channel that relocated to Latvia earlier this year, spoke to the relatives of two of the soldiers. It posted the exchanges on Telegram.

The sister of a soldier call Alexander, who was drafted on October 16, said that they were brought to the Luhansk region on November 1 and immediately sent to the front.

“The commanders said that you are meat, they brought you here for this, they will kill you all anyway. They gave them one sapper shovel for 30 people and told them to dig trenches for themselves,” she said he told her.

After that the commanders told the soldiers that they were going to get food for them, and left, per her story. She said that 40 minutes later the men started to get hit by artillery strikes that went on for three days.

Of the 560 mobilized alongside him, Alexander told his sister, after the shelling they could only account for 31. They do not know exactly what happened to the rest.

“They had no weapons, nothing. They were given four grenades, they dug the ground with their hands,” Ekaterina Brazhnikova, the sister of a different mobilized soldier, told the news outlet.

The accounts add to previous reports suggesting serious dysfunction in Russia’s efforts to rush around 300,000 additional Russians into the military to fight in Ukraine.

On Friday, the UK Ministry of Defence said that Russia’s military was likely now deploying units with the sole purpose of threatening to shoot soldiers caught retreating in Ukraine.

“These units threaten to shoot their own retreating soldiers in order to compel offensives and have been used in previous conflicts by Russian forces,” it said, adding that this was due to low morale and reluctance to fight among troops.

Earlier reports have highlighted the seemingly lack of training and equipment for Russian soldiers.

In October, UK intel said that Russia was rushing reserve troops into battle with “barely usable” rifles, creating a new kind of headache for Putin’s generals.

British intelligence said in many cases, these reservists have arrived in Ukraine “poorly equipped,” with Russian officers concerned because some individuals were even sent without weapons.

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Written By

Kit Gillet is a News Editor for Insider.