Many of the “several thousand” newly mobilised soldiers Russia has deployed to the front line in Ukraine in recent weeks are “poorly equipped”, possibly with arms in a “barely usable” condition, British defence intelligence analysts believe.
The Kremlin raised the stakes in the conflict by declaring a partial mobilisation of up to 300,000 reservists in September, but an update from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) suggests they may be using weapons dating back to the 1950s, as Moscow struggles with “strained logistics systems”.
The MoD said Russia has deployed “several thousand” newly mobilised reservists to the front line since mid-October, but “in many cases they are poorly equipped”, with open source images suggesting they have been issued with rifles of a kind introduced towards the middle of the last century.
The intelligence update, posted on Twitter, stated: “In September, Russian officers were concerned that some recently mobilised reservists were arriving in Ukraine without weapons.
“Open source images suggest that those rifles which have been issued to mobilised reservists are typically AKMs, a weapon first introduced in 1959. Many are likely in barely usable condition following poor storage.
“AKM fires 7.62mm ammunition while Russia’s regular combat units are mostly armed with 5.45mm AK-74M or AK-12 rifles.
“The integration of reservists with contract soldiers and combat veterans in Ukraine will mean Russian logisticians will have to push two types of small arms ammunition to frontline positions, rather than one.
“This will likely further complicate Russia’s already strained logistics systems.”