The war in Ukraine is going so poorly for the Russian military that record numbers of troops are going absent without leave.
AWOL Records in Ukraine
Reports indicate that Russian military courts have dealt with more than 1,000 cases of soldiers going absent without leave, or AWOL, between January and now.
This is more than the number of cases that were tried in the whole of last year.
The Russian Ministry of Defense has repeatedly tried to crack down on discipline and ensure that troops deployed in Ukraine stay within bounds. But the court records show that the Kremlin is failing.
“Court data suggests that most of those found guilty of going AWOL are now punished with suspended sentences, meaning they can be redeployed to the ‘special military operation,’” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war.
“Russia’s efforts to improve discipline have focused on making examples of defaulters, and promoting patriotic zeal, rather than addressing the root causes of soldiers’ disillusionment,” the British Military Intelligence added.
The private military company Wagner Group, which has been playing a major supporting role in the conflict, has different ways to deal with unexcused absences or even with fighters who surrender to the Ukrainian forces. Instead of suspended sentences, Wagner Group has been executing mercenaries who don’t fight or surrender (and are “freed” by the Russians) in the most gruesome ways, including beheadings and smashing skulls with sledgehammers.
The Kremlin can only police its forces with terror and punishments. And this isn’t going to change any time soon as the war continues to go poorly for Russia.
20,000 Dead Mercenaries in Bakhmut
After 15 months of war in Ukraine, the Russian military continues to be in dire straits.
On day 455 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Russian forces are struggling on the ground.
Over the weekend, the Russian forces finally captured what remained of Bakhmut. But the “victory” didn’t come cheap.
Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin came out with some estimates on the casualties that his mercenaries suffered in the months-long fight to capture the town in the Donbas.
Prigozhin assessed that his mercenary group lost 20,000 mercenaries killed in action throughout the fight to take the town. This is more dead than the Soviet forces lost during the ten-year war in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
Meanwhile, U.S. and Western intelligence assessments put the number of total Russian casualties during the battle for Bakhmut at around 100,000. This number includes killed, wounded, missing, and captured.
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Thursday, Ukrainian forces have killed and wounded approximately 205,260 Russian troops.
Equipment destroyed includes: 309 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 296 attack and transport helicopters, 3,795 tanks, 3,359 artillery pieces, 7,432 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 570 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 18 boats and cutters, 6,148 vehicles and fuel tanks, 327 anti-aircraft batteries, 2,907 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 444 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 1,015 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.
A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.