Russian riot police who rebelled against order to invade Ukraine ‘sue for wrongful dismissal’

A dozen riot police officers from southern Russia’s Krasnodar region, who were fired for not complying with the order to invade Ukraine, are now set to fight a legal battle against their dismissal.

The Rosgvardia, or Russian national guard, officers from the Omon special unit had refused to follow the order from their squad leader to enter Ukraine on 25 February — a day after Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of the neighbouring country, calling it a “special military operation”.

Calling the orders “illegal”, the 12 fighters explained that none of them carried a foreign passport, which would allow them to enter another country. Besides, they added, their duties did not allow them to leave Russia’s frontiers as their responsibilities were within the bounds of Russia, reported The Insider.

The fighters added that they abstained from participating in the Russian invasion as they were not informed about the need to go on a business trip to Ukraine for a special military operation. They were not told about the goals or conditions of the military action ordered, the report added.

“None of them had a passport with them, nor any intention of leaving the territory of Russia as their official duties were limited to the territory of the Russian Federation,” human rights lawyer Pavel Chikov said, adding that the police officers were within their rights to not follow the orders to enter Ukraine.

Mikhail Benyash, the lawyer representing the officers, said that these men did not want to kill or be killed, reported The Telegraph.

“Also, the Omon has a different function. They don’t know how to shoot ground-to-air gun systems,” he added. “They don’t drive tanks. What can they do against a regular army with a baton and a shield?”

The unit from the Krasnodar region of southern Russia had been deployed on what they thought was an exercise in Crimea when they were ordered to cross the border into Ukraine on 25 February.

This map shows the extent of the Russian invasion of Ukraine (Press Association Images)
This map shows the extent of the Russian invasion of Ukraine (Press Association Images)

Soon after, the 12 officers were fired from their positions and sent back to Krasnodar, prompting them to take legal action to get their jobs back.

Human rights lawyer Mr Chikov said the illegal act of crossing the state border is marked as a crime under the Russian Criminal Code’s Article 322. Additionally, armed groups could be held for numerous violations of the Ukrainian Criminal Code if caught for illegal entry, he said.

Not only have Russian troops who were sent to invade and capture Ukraine been facing resistance from locals, they have also encountered massive food and fuel shortages in the “faltering” war, according to a recent military intelligence assessment from the UK’s defence ministry.

Repeated intelligence inputs have confirmed that the Russian forces are “largely stalled on all fronts” and even had to forcefully divert “large numbers” of troops to defend its supply lines.

“Reluctance to manoeuvre cross-country, lack of control of the air and limited bridging capabilities are preventing Russia from effectively resupplying their forward troops with even basic essentials such as food and fuel,” an intelligence update from 17 March said.

Preliminary inputs from the UK’s defence officials earlier had claimed that the Russian side was suffering heavy losses and had made minimal progress.

It is estimated by the Nato alliance that Russia has lost up to 15,000 troops already in its first month of invasion — for contrast, Moscow had lost as many forces in a decade long invasion of Afghanistan starting 1979.

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