An intercepted call posted by Ukraine’s Security Services revealed that Russian soldiers were experiencing low morale. A soldier outlined a situation where their unit had a stand-off with a Russian general waving a pistol around and ordering them to fight, with one Russian soldier pulling the pin on a grenade and inviting him to go ahead and shoot.
Before we go any further, we would like to remind our readers that Russian and Ukrainian propaganda are very much prevalent throughout this 4-month-old war, which is why we urge you to take this information with a grain of salt as the Ukrainians are very much able to create their own war propaganda. Independent media sources had not verified the audio from the intercepted phone call.
The intercepted phone call, which was between a Russian soldier and his wife, recounted a situation wherein a Russian unit located somewhere in Donetsk had a stand-off with Russian Colonel-General Valeriy Solodchuk, the commander of the 36th Army.
Apparently, Solodchuk was hellbent on furthering the advance in Donetsk, so he ordered what was left of the 36th Army to fight to the frontlines.
The soldier in the call states that the “commander” arrived “last night.” He, along with other soldiers (probably contract soldiers), went up to the commander to ask him questions about their contracts which were about to expire. According to the soldier, his contract was about to expire in 20 “something” days, to which Solodchuk allegedly says, “So, here are your 20 days to die here.”
“Is he f*cking nuts?” his wife replies.
The soldier would then go on to explain that the Russian general’s response prompted their entire battalion not to follow orders, saying that “everyone refused to f*cking go to the frontline.” According to the intercepted call, their battalion has 215 remaining troops, which had originally been 600. Some 300 were wounded, and 200 were killed.
“It just doesn’t make any f*cking sense!” he said. “So our battery, practically all of it, refused.”
When the whole battalion refused to fight, the general allegedly went mad and started waving his gun around, saying, “I’ll whack you if you don’t fucking go there!”
However, the Russian soldier said that one of the younger soldiers still did not want to fight and stood up to the general, saying, “Go ahead, whack!” and proceeded to pull out a grenade. The young soldier then pulled out the pin and dare the general to shoot him saying they would “blow up together.”
After that confrontation, the general would got into his vehicle and drove off. The wife of the Russian soldier on the call mocked the Russian general, with various expletives as they both thought General Solodchuk was crazy.
The Russian soldier would then go on to rant about the state of their military weapons, all of which seemed to be in a very sad state – broken, destroyed, unusable. This would leave them unable to capture any territory from the Ukrainians.
“Well, our brigade can’t capture anything because there’s f*cking nothing left of it. All’s been f*cking destroyed. There’s no personnel, no f*cking nothing!” he would go on to say. “It’s f*cked. We have 1 staff commander of the artillery crew left. We have 2 artillery guns left out of 12. Out of 12 vehicles, there are only 3 in working condition now.”
While the call is definitely not confirmed by any independent source (and will be unlikely to confirm), the intercepted call may provide some form of insight into the current morale problem the Russians are facing. In the US military a general waving a pistol around threatening to shoot his own men, would probably be relieved of his command and a unit that refused to fight would be pulled off the line and an investigation launched into the apparent total breakdown of discipline in that unit.
On May 21st, SOFREP published a piece that outlined Russian contract soldiers being coerced and threatened to fight in Ukraine after they opted out of their contract. The report revealed that these contract soldiers did not know that they were en route to Ukraine and that they were surprised when it was revealed to them that they were already in Ukraine to fight.
It also revealed that the Russian soldiers had so much trouble with logistics and supplies as they did not have any food, with the Russian contract soldier saying to his mom that he would rather go to prison than in Ukraine.
“We have no idea who we’re fighting against or fighting for or how we’re doing it. I don’t want to criticize the army. I don’t know if they had a commanding officer with them; they aren’t allowed to disclose this over the phone. But I concluded they had been abandoned,” the soldier said.
When they tried to opt-out, officers from the FSB and a prosecutor showed up to tell them that they would be handed criminal charges if they were to terminate their contract. Thus they had no choice but to sign a contract agreeing that they were joining the so-called “special military operation.”
We have also seen reports of Russian conscripts who refused to accept longer contracts being forced to remain outside in the cold, denied food and water, and assigned back-breaking manual labor until they agreed to sign a contract.
It would be easy to discount these incidents as one-off situations that do not reflect the general condition of the Russian army but consider this. In spite of the Kremlin’s considerable efforts in their own media to portray the war in Ukraine as a heroic and patriotic fight against modern Nazism which reaches deeply into Russia’s past, the Russian population has not responded by lining up at recruiting stations to join the military. Quite the opposite, since the invasion began more than a dozen armed forces recruiting stations across Russia have been bombed, vandalized, and set on fire.