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HomeNewsPutin 's***ing on heads' of soldiers as Russian morale at all-time low

Putin 's***ing on heads' of soldiers as Russian morale at all-time low

People are still trying to leave Russia after the country’s president, Vladimir Putin, launched a partial mobilisation which could see some 300,000 reservists called up to fight in Ukraine. Satellite images released on Tuesday show thousands trying to flee to countries like Georgia, Mongolia, Kazahkstan and Finland. According to Maxar, which has been tracking the conflict from its satellites, the queue to cross into Georgia is now well over 10 miles long, making the estimated wait to enter the country at one stage 48 hours. There are now unconfirmed reports that Russia may close the borders to men who are of fighting age.

Russians’ attempts to get out of the country could indicate that they know what is happening on the ground in Ukraine. Despite Kremlin propaganda, many Russians will be aware of the numerous setbacks their country’s military has endured.

Igor Girkin, a prominent ultra-nationalist, spoke openly about the treatment of Russian soldiers recently. As quoted by the Telegraph, he accused Russia’s leaders of “treason” and “s***ting on the heads” of its soldiers.

Various reports since the start of the war have described Russian soldiers living in poor conditions, fighting with old equipment and suffering from low morale. Pavel Filatyev, a former Russian paratrooper who was sent to fight in Ukraine, recently published a 141-page account of what he saw there.

Speaking to the Guardian in August, Mr Filatyev described how he and his colleagues acted like “savages” in Kherson, southern Ukraine, because they had been left with little food and without other basics.

He said: “Like savages, we ate everything there: oats, porridge, jam, honey, coffee … We didn’t give a damn about anything, we’d already been pushed to the limit. Most had spent a month in the fields with no hint of comfort, a shower or normal food.

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“What a wild state you can drive people to by not giving any thought to the fact that they need to sleep, eat and wash. Everything around gave us a vile feeling; like wretches, we were just trying to survive.”

The low morale of Russian soldiers hasn’t been helped by their lack of military success during the course of the conflict. Last month, Ukrainian troops took back a reported 6000 square metres of territory near Kharkiv.

Putin has responded not only by partially mobilising his population to fight, but by also seeking to annex four Ukrainian territories. Russia is currently holding sham referendums in Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk.

These votes are unanimously viewed as rigged, and the Ministry of Defence has said Putin may try to declare these regions at Russian territory on Friday.

In its latest intelligence, the MoD said: “There is a realistic possibility that Putin will use his address to formally announce the accession of the occupied regions of Ukraine to the Russian Federation. The referendums currently underway within these territories are scheduled to conclude on 27 September.

“Russia’s leaders almost certainly hope that any accession announcement will be seen as a vindication of the ‘special military operation’ and will consolidate patriotic support for the conflict.”

The Ukrainian government has taken a tough stance on the referendums. A presidential adviser has warned that any Ukrainians who help with the votes will face treason charges.

Mikhailo Podolyak told Swiss newspaper Blick: “We have lists of names of people who have been involved in some way. We are talking about hundreds of collaborators.

“They will be prosecuted for treason. They face prison sentences of at least five years.”

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