UMAN, UKRAINE - 2023/04/30: Woman lays flowers in front of a destroyed apartment building that was damaged as a result of a missile attack by the Russian army in the city of Uman. (Photo by Sergei Chuzavkov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Commanders are using so-called “Zindans” as punishment for, among other things, drunkenness and attempting to terminate their contracts with the Kremlin.
It marks a major shift in strategy by Moscow as the war continues, the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.
In an intelligence update on Twitter, the MoD said Russian military chiefs are now using “increasingly draconian initiatives to improve discipline in the force”.
“In recent months, Russian commanders have likely started punishing breaches in discipline by detaining the offending troops in ‘Zindans’ which are improvised cells consisting of holes in the ground covered with a metal grille, the MoD said.
“Multiple recent reports from Russian personnel give similar accounts of being placed in Zindans for misdemeanours including drunkenness and attempting to terminate their contracts.
“In the early months of the war, many Russian commanders took a relatively light touch in enforcing discipline, allowing those who refused to soldier to quietly return home.
“Since autumn 2022, there have been multiple increasingly draconian initiatives to improve discipline in the force, especially since Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov assumed command of the operation in January 2023.”
Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine - 30 April 2023.
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The MoD revealed a month ago how thousands of Russian casualties in the war have been linked to alcohol consumption.
They said army commanders had been forced to accept the problem as “part of military life” because of the culture of heavy drinking in Russian society.
Moscow has suffered up to 200,000 casualties since the invasion of its neighbour in February last year.