Russia prosecuting more soldiers who won't fight in Ukraine

Russia prosecuting more soldiers who won’t fight in Ukraine

Prosecutors in Russia filed criminal cases against more than 2,000 soldiers accused of fleeing their posts in the first half of 2023, more than twice the number of AWOL cases for the entire previous year, Russian independent media said.

Opposition in the ranks to the Kremlin’s war against Ukraine is driving the growing number of AWOL instances in the Russian armed forces, according to the news outlet Mediazona, which has criticized its country’s conflict and based its analysis on a study of Russian court decisions.

“The majority of these sentences are suspended, thereby enabling the command to send violating soldiers back to the front lines,” Mediazona reported.

Last week, two Russian soldiers were sentenced to two years in a penal colony for refusing to return to their units in Ukraine, British officials said Wednesday.

The high rate of convictions is a clear indication of the poor state of morale in the Russian army. The refusal to fight likely reflects a lack of motivation and training along with the stress that Russian forces face along the frontline in Ukraine, British military officials said.

“Although some soldiers have refused to fight and attrition rates remain high, Russia likely mitigates their loss by committing a mass of poorly trained soldiers to the frontline,” U.K. officials said on X, formerly Twitter, in their latest assessment of battlefield conditions in Ukraine.