Russia is said to be canceling plans to send new troops to Ukraine as more of its service members are reportedly refusing to fight following humiliating losses on the battlefield.
Ukrainian intelligence reported Wednesday that members of the 5th Separate Tank Brigade of the Russian Armed Forces are surrendering their military benefits in order to resign for their refusal to fight.
“At the same time, a catastrophic shortage of personnel is seen in the units taking part in the war against Ukraine,” the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said.
The agency did not specify how many service members have reportedly opted out. Ukrainian intelligence says Russian troops have routinely been caught venting about the dysfunction of Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation,” seemingly with increasing frequency after Ukraine launched several surprise counteroffensives in recent weeks and reclaimed large swaths of land.
In the latest audio released by Ukraine’s defense ministry, a man identified as a Russian soldier in the Kharkiv region can be heard angrily complaining about the military being in shambles, in what is described as an intercepted phone call.
“I imagined all of this differently, because there’s no kind of organization. I thought there was an army here, but it’s not an army here,” he tells a relative.
“Everyone is out for themselves,” he says.
US officials have said Ukraine’s gains on the battlefield have forced Russian troops to literally flee, abandoning equipment as they retreat. According to a report by The Moscow Times, Russian forces near Izyum in the Kharkiv region lost half of their equipment in just four days this month.
Amid rising outrage among Russians over the losses, the Kremlin is said to be maneuvering to deflect blame from Putin by pinning it on military advisers instead.
But the losses in the Kherson and Kharkiv regions appear to have hit ordinary Russians harder than earlier defeats in the Kyiv region and on Snake Island, so much so that they sparked speculation on many pro-Kremlin social media channels about Ukraine taking the war well into Russian territory.
“Since no one is hearing our message and no one is preparing defense for large [Russian] cities, and the enemy at the same time is concentrating huge forces on the border with the Belgorod region, there is a great probability that they may significantly take one of the large cities under their control,” one pro-Kremlin Telegram channel warned, predicting that the “enemy will act more skillfully” and stifle communications in a late-night takeover.
The tone among Russian officials also took a swift change, with the mayor of a town in the Kaliningrad region announcing this week that celebrations for the city’s annual holiday had been canceled in light of the “tense situation” on the battlefield.
“After the funeral of one of the participants in the special military operation, which will take place this Thursday, we consider it extremely unethical and unforgivable to sing and dance joyfully in memory of the fallen and their relatives,” Grigory Sokolovsky, the mayor of Sovetsk, announced on social media.
Authorities in Rostov-on-Don and Voronezh have also canceled upcoming celebrations.
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