Crimea: Russian barracks on fire
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A Russian marine said soldiers were “dying like flies” as a result of “incomprehensible” offensives carried out on the eastern front. Fierce fighting continues to rage in Ukraine’s Donbas region, despite the onset of winter. In particular, Russian commanders continue to try and seize the city of Bakhmut.
Reports have emerged of First World War-like conditions, as Russia’s army launches wave after wave of infantry attacks against heavily defended Ukrainian positions.
Other areas of the Donetsk region have also seen heavy clashes, that have resulted in high casualties for both sides.
In November, Russian marines from the 155th Guards Brigade helped capture the village of Pavlivka.
The Marines are an elite detachment from Russia’s Pacific navy and have suffered significant losses during the military campaign.
The brigade is believed to have lost hundreds of men in the battles to capture the village.
Alexander Sladkov, a Russian war correspondent, claimed the marines once sent a letter to officials to complain about their commanders after losing 300 soldiers in “another incomprehensible offensive”.
The soldiers reportedly demanded that the Kremlin carry out an inspection to stop the poorly planned and unprepared offensive on Ukrainian positions.
However, it appears their appeal has fallen on deaf ears and the troops are continuing to suffer high casualties, as they carry out further missions.
A marine from the brigade told the Russian journal 7×7 that soldiers were being sent out daily to storm settlements between Pavlivka and Ugledar.
Each time their commanders tell them that there is no enemy in these areas, and each time they end up being ambushed by Ukrainian forces.
The marine said the soldiers continued to “die like flies”.
He added: “I don’t know how I’m still alive, but it won’t be for long.”
The soldier said the brigade had around 200 men left alive, but only half were combat-ready.
He added that the troops were mentally and physically exhausted by the non-stop fighting and that survivors were sent out on further missions without rest.
After eight soldiers absconded, the commanders allegedly threatened the rest with punishment for desertion.
The marine added that those remaining in their positions “most likely will not return home again”.
It comes as an influential nationalist Russian blogger claimed Russian officers fighting in Ukraine were unhappy with the military top brass and Putin over the poor execution of the war.
Girkin, a former Federal Security Service (FSB) officer, helped Russia annex Crimea in 2014.
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He also organised pro-Russian militias in eastern Ukraine and was recently found guilty by a Dutch court for the shooting down of Flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014 with the loss of 298 passengers and crew.
He made his scathing comments in a 90-minute video, in which he said the Russian military needed reform and to recruit competent people who could lead a successful military campaign.
The former FSB officer claimed that some mid-level Russian officers did not conceal their criticisms of Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu and Putin.
Girkin said: “It is not just me… people are not blind and deaf at all, people at the mid-level there do not even hide their views which, how do I put it, are not fully complimentary about the president or the defence minister.”
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