Nearly 100 soldiers are being convicted every week in Russia for refusing orders to fight in Ukraine, a recent UK intelligence report has revealed.
The report, based on figures relayed by independent Russian news outlet Mediazona, said two Russian soldiers were sentenced to serve two years in a penal colony last week because they did not want to return to the frontline.
There is also a dramatic increase in cases of Russian military personnel going AWOL (absent without official leave) since March 2023. The report, however, did not specify the current rate.
If the trend continues, the UK defense ministry estimates that there will be approximately 5,200 convictions a year for Russian soldiers who dodge Ukraine duties.
Russian soldiers’ refusal to fight in Ukraine is attributed to the increasing casualty rate in the ongoing war.
Since the invasion began in February 2022, Moscow has already lost more than 30,000 soldiers to fighting in Ukraine, according to an independent tally conducted by Mediazona and the BBC Russian service.
The arrival of Western weapons with precision strike capabilities is also likely to have instilled fear in Moscow’s forces.
“Refusal to fight likely reflects the lack of training, motivation, and high stress situations Russian forces face along the entire Ukrainian frontline,” the UK intel report suggests.
The high rate of soldier convictions in Russia demonstrates the poor morale in the Russian Army, the report claims.
A former senior Russian commander also claimed that some troops are on the verge of abandoning the frontline due to collapsing morale.
“When they are shooting at you day and night and the only thing you can do is dig a trench and sit there for months on end without tanks, armored personnel carriers or any vehicles – it all has a real demoralizing effect,” former Soviet Army official Sergey Gulyaev told Express.co.uk.