The Daily Telegraph

Refusenik troops shamed as photos posted on WC walls

- By Natalia Vasilyeva

PHOTOGRAPH­S of Russian soldiers refusing to fight in Ukraine have been plastered above urinals in an attempt to shame them.

A short video shared on the Telegram messaging app showed the pictures of at least five young officers in military uniforms hanging above lavatories.

“They are a disgrace to the Guards’ Unit,” a caption under the portraits reads. Despite this, there was no confirmati­on of what unit the soldiers belonged to or when the video was recorded.

What appeared to be an official document drafted by commanders from Russia’s Eastern Military District was shared in the same Telegram post alongside the footage with a stamp reading: “Refused to perform a combat mission. Prone to betrayal!”

Meanwhile, another video emerged online of an apparent fighter from the Wagner group of mercenarie­s brawling with Rosgvardia national guards at a hotel in Voronezh, Russia, after telling them he served his country in Ukraine.

Rob Lee, an expert in Russian defence at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, said there is a growing sense of resentment among Wagner members and other volunteers as they fought in Ukraine while the “state didn’t fully mobilise”. This could become a “greater problem going forward”, Mr Lee said.

Western and Ukrainian officials believe Russia is struggling to find enough volunteers to replenish its depleted army.

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, has so far refused a nationwide mobilisati­on to bolster his forces as he continues to call the conflict a “special military operation” rather than a war.

A string of successful Ukrainian counter-offensives has sapped morale among Russian troops and prompted desertions, weakening Russia’s position further as it approaches the sevenmonth anniversar­y of its invasion.

Moscow last week deployed helicopter­s over Ukraine in an effort to round up soldiers who had fled their position to escape Kyiv’s counteroff­ensives.

British military officials recently reported that Russian troops were experienci­ng “morale and discipline issues” in Ukraine.

In an intelligen­ce update, the Ministry of Defence said combat fatigue, high casualty rates and payment problems were the soldiers’ main grievances.

 ?? ?? Photos of at least five Russian soldiers have appeared over urinals
Photos of at least five Russian soldiers have appeared over urinals

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