Amid morale problems within the Russian forces, another so-called elite paratrooper unit has refused to fight Putin’s war and reportedly staged a mutiny against its own leaders.

This story was broken by an independent Russian newspaper, Pskovskaya Gubernia. They reported that the elite paratrooper unit was from an airbase in Pskov, Northern Russia. According to the report, some 60 unit members were fired and threatened with charges relating to “desertion” or “failure to comply with an order.”

“After the first days of the war, they were first brought to the Republic of Belarus, and then they returned to their base in Pskov,” they reported.

Apparently not wanting to fight, they just allegedly returned to Pskov without prior notice. This prompted jeers from their nationalist comrades who called them “cowards” for not wanting to fight the Ukrainians.

Despite these threats, the paratrooper unit and their families stood their ground. The unit’s commanders did not accept any punishment for their decision not to fight. Specifically, they rejected their dismissals in defiance of Moscow.

“Our sources tell that commanders now won’t accept any resignation reports,” the newspaper said. “Many servicemen send them to the military prosecutor’s office instead.”

Russian activist Nikolay Kuzmin said that he was able to speak to a driver who transported the soldiers back to Pskov. He verified the reports to be true. Kuzmin reportedly works with the Yabloko party, an opposition party against Putin.

“I believe that military personnel should protect their homeland primarily from attack and not participate in the imperial resentment of a narrow group of people (or maybe even one person) outside the borders of their own country,” he said through Telegram.

Russian paratroopers stand at attention during an exercise in Kazakhstan (US Air Force, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons). Source:
Russian paratroopers stand at attention during an exercise in Kazakhstan (US Air Force, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

The newspaper, which interviewed a military source, said that they expect the number of deserters and troops who refuse to fight to increase. This might be because the troops have been seeing their own units getting slaughtered. These troops might have caught wind of their comrades freezing to death without any food to eat and the large numbers of casualties they were taking against the Ukrainians, likely due to reported supply problems on the field. This alone would decrease morale and prompt them to desert their unit.

The news of the low supply of food among the Russian troops is not a secret. If you can remember, SOFREP uncovered that the Russians were sending troops expired MREs. and ammunition as much as 40 years old. SOFREP also reported that Russia had requested China to send them MREs to feed their troops. Taken all together, it suggests that the Russian army is rather hollowed inside, able to present well at parades but lacking the basic stores of food and ammunition to mount sustained operations in the field on a large scale More so, reports of looting among the Russian ground forces have surfaced as early as March.

A lot of them were starving to death, so they foraged for food, killed stray dogs, and ate them to fill their stomachs. There were reports that some of these dogs ate corpses that had been decaying on the streets for days as the Russians did not collect their dead.

“Things are bad with food. We are constantly saving it,” POW Vladimir Safronov said when asked by Ukrainian interrogators about the status of their logistics. “Very often, we have a situation that a ration for one person is shared between two people.”

This POW also confirmed reports of looting as they mostly raided civilian houses for food. He said that he had seen these types of looting and that it was widespread. Perhaps more striking, it was claimed that senior sergeants and commanders were the ones who were looting stores and homes. In response, there have been credible reports of Ukrainian citizens giving out poisoned cakes to Russian troops or filling vodka bottles with toxic rubbing alcohol and leaving them in places for Russian soldiers to find.

While the report cannot be independently verified, Pskovskaya Gubernia is a well-known independent news outlet in Russia. Their offices were raided a month ago, on March 5, due to the Russian government’s crackdown on independent journalism. This would later result in the raid of their editor-in-chief’s house, Denis Kamalyagin.

This is not the first report of Russian troops not wanting to fight the Ukrainians. As early as March 3, reports of Russian troops surrendering without a fight surfaced. Photos and videos had become viral of these soldiers surrendering. Furthermore, the Kremlin sent in young conscripts to fight their war in violation of their own laws about sending conscripts with less than four months of experience into a combat zone. Ironically, this law came about after the nearly 20 year war Russian fought in Chechnya where large numbers of raw conscripts were thrown into that meat grinder with the expected results.

Their frustration with their own government had been heard on intercepted radio transmissions. A lot of them could be heard cursing their own government for sending them into Ukraine unprepared. These transmissions could not be verified as genuine, but when all of the information about supply problems, green troops, low morale, and equipment failure are taken together and viewed against a Russian offensive that stalled within days, then struggled to hold what it had and then finally retreated, they appear to be accurate.

With this in mind, it would not be difficult to imagine how the Russian forces on the ground are reacting to their government not being able to feed them or provide them with an ample amount of ammunition.

It is also possible that they do not want to fight as they have relatives who live in Ukraine. The two countries have a very intertwined history. Thus, it is a common occurrence for some Russians to have Ukrainian relatives. This alone would stop troops from attacking. Some had even ditched their military vehicles, taken off their uniforms, and swapped them with looted civilian clothing in an attempt to return to Russia or possibly join Ukrainian society. However, these defections haven’t been publicized officially yet.

In the recent month of fighting, desertions had also taken place due to their realization that they had lost their offensive capabilities. One documented instance was a group of 300 Russians refusing to obey orders when they were deployed to Sumy. They allegedly just “left the area of operations.”

“Russian forces are aware of the hopelessness of their situation and increasingly choosing desertion to avoid death,” The Centre for Defense Strategies said.

Another documented refusal to participate in the invasion was from 11 OMON special force soldiers from the Russian Guard in Khakassia. They reportedly did not even want to leave Russia and expressed their anger toward their commanding general. These troops are now reportedly being reprimanded by their government. However, they have said that they are fully prepared to face the leadership head-on. This is amidst reports that units of the OMON, (Interior Ministry Police) are responsible for apprehending and shooting deserters and the mass killing of civilians in urban areas.