Russia is investigating more than 1,000 cases of its troops going missing
Russia is currently investigating the unexplained absence of more than 1,000 soldiers who were part of the war in Ukraine, according to the UK.
The UK’s ministry of defence claimed on Wednesday that independent Russian journalists have military courts are looking into 1,053 cases of absent without leave (AWOL) personnel between January and May this year.
The UK officials added: “Russia’s military has struggled to enforce discipline in its ranks throughout its operations in Ukraine, but its issues have highly likely worsened following the forced mobilisation of reservists since October 2022.”
The Kremlin called up 300,000 reservists to the frontline for the war in Ukraine – known as the special military operation in Russia – last autumn.
The MoD claimed that most of those found guilty of going AWOL “are now punished with suspended sentences”, so they can be redeployed elsewhere in the war, if they’re found.
But, the UK officials also highlighted how Russia has a deep-rooted problem when it comes to motivating its troops.
They suggested: “Russia’s efforts to improve discipline have forced on making examples of defaulters, and promoting patriotic zeal, rather than addressing the root causes of soldiers’ disillusionment.”
Back in September, president Vladimir Putin also created a law which increased the penalties for desertion during mobilisation. Violators face up to 10 years in prison, while those who voluntarily surrender could lead to a sentence of 15 years behind bars.
As the Institute for the Study of War said in November: “The morale and psychological state of Russian forces in the Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts are exceedingly low.
“Significant losses on the battlefield, mobilisation to the front lines without proper training and poor supplies have led to cases of desertion.”
The MoD suggested that this is a much higher number of AWOL troops compared to the whole of 2022.
Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine - 24 May 2023.
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