While Russia has made some military gains in Ukraine's east, high casualty rates are causing some Russian units to express publicly their exhaustion and displeasure with battlefield conditions, with some even questioning if Russia's invasion of Ukraine is even legal, The Guardian reports.
“Our personnel have faced hunger and cold,” Russian fighters said in one video posted online. “For a significant period, we were without any material, medical or food support.”
“Given our continuous presence and the fact that amongst our personnel there are people with chronic medical issues, people with mental issues, many questions arise that are ignored by the higher-ups at headquarters," the fighters added.
One Russia soldier said in an interview that he had even contacted a lawyer.
“I have been fighting in Ukraine since the start of the war, it has been over three months now,” Andrei, who serves with the 37th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade headquartered in Buryatia in Siberia, told the Guardian. “It is exhausting, my whole unit wants a break, but our leadership said they can’t replace us right now.”
“The three months of fighting already feel longer than the four years I spent serving in the army during peacetime,” said Andrei. “I have already contacted a lawyer online who told me that by law the general can keep us here until our contract runs out so there isn’t much we can do.”
Another soldier said that his unit's mobilization "was done unlawfully, without medical certification."
"Over 70 percent of those here were previously decommissioned because they physically can’t fight. Over 90 percent have never fought before and saw a Kalashnikov for the first time. We were thrown on to the frontlines," the soldier said.
As The Guardian points out, the videos "are consistent with reports of Russian difficulties in rotating out its exhausted troops."
“The Russian military is well suited to short, high-intensity campaigns defined by a heavy use of artillery,” wrote Michael Kofman and Rob Lee in a new analysis of Russia’s armed capabilities. “By contrast, it is poorly designed for a sustained occupation, or a grinding war of attrition, that would require a large share of Russia’s ground forces, which is exactly the conflict it has found itself in. The Russian military doesn’t have the numbers available to easily adjust or to rotate forces if a substantial amount of combat power gets tied down in a war.”