Angry families say Russian conscripts thrown to front line unprepared

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Irina Sokolova’s husband, a Russian soldier mobilized to fight in Ukraine, called her from a forest there last month, crying, nearly breaking down.

“They are lying on television,” he said, referring to state-run television propaganda that downplays Russia’s failures and portrays a do-or-die war for Russia’s survival against the United States and its allies. Decay.

Sokolova, 37, also cried for her and her nearly one-year-old child, she said. In a telephone interview from his home in Voronezh, western Russia.

Sokolova is among dozens of soldiers’ spouses and other relatives who are expressing anger and fear over the appalling conditions faced by new recruits on the front lines of Russia’s war in Ukraine, which is remarkably public and dangerous.

Relatives of the soldiers, mostly people who normally stay out of politics, have been provoking the Kremlin’s ire by posting videos online and in Russian independent media, and even speaking to foreign journalists. They say mobilized troops were deployed into battle with little training, poor equipment and often no clear orders. Many are tired and confused, according to their families. Some days are lost in the forests. Others refuse to fight.

“Of course he had no idea how terrible it would be there,” Sokolova told The Washington Post. “We watch our federal TV channels and they say everything is perfect.”

The survivors are not usually critical of President Vladimir Putin or even the war, but their videos have exposed the morale of many recruits, as Russia threw a claimed 318,000 reinforcements into the war in its most recent deployment. Attempts have been made to control the losses.

Yana, a transport worker from St. Petersburg, was a pro-war patriot until her partner mobilized.

In a phone interview, Yana confirmed video accounts from other military spouses that the men had to buy their own warm uniforms and boots and had little training. They were not given food or water in Ukraine.

“They have no order and they have no work,” he said. “I spoke to my husband yesterday and he said he had no idea what to do. He had just been abandoned and had lost all confidence, all trust in the authorities.

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The loss of the city of Kherson shattered Putin’s war aims in Ukraine.

In videos, wives recite lists of grievances in shaky voices. Conscripts pose in body armor that barely covers their ribs or film themselves in Ukrainian forests, listing their dead and complaining that their officers are nowhere to be seen.

Details in the videos could not be independently verified but are consistent with accounts provided by family members in interviews with The Post, and with reports from independent Russian media, such as ASTRA, which reported in Luhansk. Exposed seven underground prisons for deserters.

Sokolova’s husband was mobilized to fight in the 252nd Motorized Rifle Regiment on September 22. He told her that he did not receive any military training and was already in Ukraine by September 26,” he said.

He called late last month, having barely survived a major battle in which his unit was surrounded and many killed. He and two others escaped without their backpacks and warm stuff but got lost and wandered into the forest.

“They were thrown into the fire, so to speak, in the front line, but they are not military men. They don’t know how to fight. They can’t do it,” Sokolova said, adding that her husband He was in severe pain from pancreatitis. “I feel how terrible it is for him there,” she said. “My heart is breaking.”

Families of other men mobilized to fight in the regiment said their loved ones were sent to the front line near Svatov, a small town in the Luhansk region, on their first day in Ukraine, with 30 men digging trenches. A shovel was given in between. Speaking in a joint video appeal sent to independent Russian media earlier, Vyrostka, he said the commanders had “run away” and the men had endured three days of heavy shelling.

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According to their video account on November 3, several dozen mobilized soldiers from the regiment marched 100 miles to Milo on the Russian border, demanding to be returned to their base near Voronezh.

Russia is taking men off the streets to fight in Ukraine.

He was briefly taken to nearby Valuyki in Russia, but his plea was ignored. “We wrote petitions. We wrote reports. We did everything but no one listens to us. No one wants to listen to us,” said one soldier, Konstantin Voropayev, in the video, in which he pleaded for legal help. also did

Sokolova’s husband called her from Valuyki in a panic that same day, saying that she and the others were being sent back to the war.

On October 28, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told Putin that initial problems with equipping and training mobilized troops had been resolved.

Konrad Muzycka, a military analyst at Poland-based Rochon Consulting, wrote in a recent analysis that despite the recruits’ “extraordinary morale,” their sheer size could help Russia on the battlefield.

As the videos continue to spread, Russian officials appear to be losing patience. A veteran soldier, Alexander Leshkov, faces up to 15 years in prison after he was filmed swearing at an officer, shoving him, and groping about the unit’s low-grade flak jackets, his lawyer, Henry Tskreshvili said.

“This is sacrilege, imitation of shooting, imitation of exercises, imitation of formation,” Leshkov fumed.

Yana and her husband, who have a 4-year-old son, were married before the men were sent off to war, along with 43 other couples. The Post agreed not to use his full name to protect him from arrest and possible prosecution.

In the couple’s apartment, the television was always on, with the Kremlin line that Russia was fighting America, not Ukraine. “We don’t know anything else,” Yana said. “We are used to believing what we are told.”

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But after her husband developed, she gave up television because it was making her “aggressive”. She said she feared for her husband’s life but said she did not blame Putin, “because he is an intelligent person.”

“We are completely confused, at a loss, and we feel abandoned,” he said. “We cry from morning till night.”

Andrei Kolesnikov, an analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said Kremlin propaganda is working — for now — with video demonstrations against Putin or even in times of war.

“Putin wants people to share responsibility for the war with him,” Kolsenkov said. “He wants their bodies and souls to be sacrificed on the altar of NATO, the West and the struggle against global evil. In a more or less modern society that was not prepared to be physically involved in the trenches, cannon fodder. This strategy of glorifying and making death a hero is dangerous.

After repeated military failures and high casualties, support for the war is waning. The Levada Center, an independent pollster, reported on November 1 that 57 percent of Russians wanted peace talks, while 36 percent wanted to continue fighting.

Russia’s methodical attacks exploit the vulnerability of Ukraine’s power system.

Relatives of mobilized men “realize what’s going on, but people whose relatives weren’t mobilized see the world through rose-colored glasses. They have no idea what’s going on, and They are not interested.”

Yana tells her son that his father is a superhero, fighting evil. The fairy tale matches Russia’s imperialist propaganda, but deep down, it doesn’t ring true. Inwardly, Yana said she was afraid that her husband would never call again and that her son would grow up without a father.

She said that I am just an ordinary woman and I want to live in peace. “That’s all I want.”

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