Russian army officers delivered a damning verdict on Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, as they voted to down arms and go home in a secret poll. Putin’s army has been involved in fierce fighting in the Donbas, as it tries to secure control over the entire resource rich region. On Friday Russia’s Ministry of Defence claimed the city of Soledar had fallen to the Kremlin’s troops and that the noose was tightening on Bakhmut.
Kyiv insisted that the city was still not fully under Russian control and that pockets of resistance remained. If Soledar has fallen, then this would be the first major battlefield success for Russia’s commanders since the summer and should provide a huge boost to army morale.
However, Russian soldiers appear far from convinced that they should be waging war in Ukraine, according to a secret poll carried out by a brigade commander. A prominent Russian military blogger, Vladen Tatarsky, wrote on his Telegram channel that the commander asked his officers whether they wanted to kill Ukrainians every day.
To his dismay all but one indicated that they would rather not and would “prefer to go on vacation, and stay alive”. Tatarsky said the sole officer in favour of war dreamt only of how to kill the enemy day and night.
He described his appearance as being similar to that of North Korea’s brutal dictator, Kim Jong-un. The military blogger added: “Our victory will come faster if the system in the army is built in such a way that people like our Kim Jong-un will rise through the ranks.
“I am sure that this moment should become a priority in the reform of the Armed Forces.” Russian troops continue to suffer from poor morale and to desert their units in high numbers, as they attempt to avoid being killed in fighting.
A study carried out by the Russian media outlet Vyorstka detected a huge increase recently in searches for “how to surrender” on Yandex.
Yandex ís a Russian search engine widely used by people in the country and sometimes preferred to Google.
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The researchers found that in the week between November 28 to December 4, over 66,000 queries were made using the phrase “how to surrender”. This compares with an average of 10,000 such searches per week during the previous five months.
Vyorstka noted that the increase in searches in November coincided with the arrival of large groups of mobilised soldiers to the front and reports of significant losses among them.
At the same time, video messages from troops and their relatives began to appear, in which they complained that conscripts soldiers were being thrown “like meat” into the fighting.
It comes as Russian soldiers based in Belarus fled their barracks near Minsk with weapons.
Military authorities launched a search for the deserters, setting up checkpoints on surrounding roads.
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Locals reported: “There is a checkpoint at the exit to the city on the Zaslavl-Kolodishchi road, not everyone is checked, selectively.
“Near the Hippo store on this highway, there is a bus with military men in camouflage.”
At the same time, conscripted soldiers posted another video message to social media, complain about their treatment.
The soldiers come from the Belgorod region and were trained as artillerymen.
Despite this, they were sent in as infantry to be used as cannon fodder.