‘They’re Deceiving Us Every Step’: Troops Say Russia’s War Is In Away

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Troops sent to Ukraine to support Russian troops said they had no choice but to leave because the Russian military was in disarray and “they deceived us every step of the way.”

Soldiers from the breakaway state of South Ossetia, speaking with South Ossetian leader Anatoly Bibilov at a meeting published by independent news outlet MediaZona, listed a list of complaints about faulty equipment, lack of leadership and intelligence, and brainless tactics.

South Ossetia, which relies heavily on military and financial aid from Russia, sent troops to Ukraine in late March to “defend Russia.” Ukrainian military officials said at the time that about 150 South Ossetian soldiers were joining Russia, but Tskhinvali never gave official figures.

Many of the soldiers are said to be part of Russian military units based in South Ossetia; Moscow and Tskhinvali reached an agreement in 2017 to partially merge their armed forces.

But reports soon emerged of many of them refusing to take part in the fight, vowing not to become “cannon fodder.”

“There’s nothing to be afraid of here, it’s just that they tricked us every step of the way,” one of the soldiers told Bibilov of their decision to leave the fight.

“From the 11 days [we were there,] I didn’t even expect the enemy what happened there. All equipment is not working, I said straight away… There is no command staff,” another soldier told the leader of South Ossetia.

Of the 10 tanks, the first soldier said, only three were fired. “The artillery mortar for the mortar shooter didn’t work, the legs were all bent,” he said.

“No orders. And if the officer doesn’t know what to do, what’s the sergeant doing there?” another soldier was quoted as saying.

He said “99 percent of the equipment” in other units didn’t even work, but when troops warned senior commanders that their vehicles weren’t working and their guns were “not firing,” he ignored them and said to just “go like that.”

In other cases, troops complain of their commanders “disappearing” whenever fighting begins.

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“He is afraid of his own men. He made himself a security team of several people. The commander refused to come out and talk to his own men and said that he would be beaten,” said one soldier.

Eventually, “some guys from the spetsnaz [special forces]” actually beat him and made “his face bleed”, he said.

They say Russian troops never had a contingency plan, or escape route. Another soldier said one of his comrades who was injured in Russian-occupied Donetsk did not receive medical treatment.

“He said that on the first day they bandaged him, but there was still shrapnel inside him. He says his hand is very swollen, and no one is doing anything, the doctors did not even come to see him. He has been there for five days, and the doctor is only asking him for money,” he said.

After hearing the soldiers paint such a picture of total dysfunction, Bibilov asked the men directly if they believed Russia would lose the war.

A soldier spoke up: “Yes, we believe they will lose.”