'Cannon fodder': Why elite Russian soldiers serving in Ukraine are angry

© Bulent Kilic, AFP

Soldiers from the 155th Naval Infantry Brigade, an elite corps of the Russian army, published an open letter on Sunday denouncing their superiors for using them as cannon fodder in Ukraine. The criticism dominated Russian media so much that it provoked a response – the first since the beginning of hostilities – from the ministry of defence.

This is yet another sign of growing discontent in Russia with the way the war in Ukraine is going. This time, the criticism comes directly from the front. Elite Russian soldiers expressed their anger in an open letter published on Sunday, prompting the ministry of defence's response about the human cost for Russia of the "special military operation" in Ukraine.

Soldiers of the 155th Naval Infantry Brigade broke their silence following a particularly harsh battle not far from the city of Donetsk in the Donbas region. "As a result of the 'carefully' planned offensive by the 'great commanders', we lost about 300 people [...] 50 percent of vehicles," write the authors of the open letter, which was widely shared on Telegram, the main communication app used by the Russian military and political commentators.

Ingredients for a massacre

"Capturing this village could have been a significant victory for Moscow because it has been on a disputed front line since 2015" when sporadic fighting pitted pro-Russian separatist forces in Donbas against the Ukrainian army, says Tack.

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