Russia resorts to Stalingrad-style tactic as soldiers shoot deserters
Ukraine: Russia ‘trying to do three things at once’ says expert
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Russian soldiers operating in Ukraine are said to be suffering from a crisis of low morale amid a shortage of weapons and other essential supplies. In a vicious plot to stop struggling soldiers from retreating, Kremlin strategists have devised a method to force battalions onward using so-called “barrier troops”. This final line of soldiers have been tasked with executing Russian conscripts who attempt to flee the fighting.
Former director-general of the Royal United Services Institute Professor Michael Clark reported the brutal strategy had been implemented by the Wagner Group, President Putin’s de facto private army, in the east of Ukraine.
Professor Clark explained: “The Wagner Group, who are the mercenaries who work for the Kremlin, have been attacking Bakhmut for about four weeks now. These are very, very powerful attacks but they still haven’t taken it.
“We know from what’s been happening at Bakhmut that they have convicts in the frontline, they’ve got mobilised men behind them and regular [soldiers] behind them.
“The regulars, in the third line, are known as the barrier troops. Their job is to shoot any of the convicts or the mobilised men who retreat.”
Professor Clark noted a similar tactic was deployed by Soviet forces during the Battle of Stalingrad in the Second World War.
He added: “That is the way they are fighting in Bakhmut and they are losing an enormous number of men and they still haven’t taken it.”
The Ministry of Defence echoed Professor Clark’s report of “barrier troops,” also known as “blocking units” among Kremlin armed forces in Ukraine.
An intelligence report detailed: “The tactic of shooting deserters likely attests to the low quality, low morale and indiscipline of Russian forces.”
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While the Wagner Group has maintained operations in Bakhmut, just above there has also been intense fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces over the P66 highway.
Ukrainian troops have taken control of the route between Svatove and Kreminna, blocking the transport of Russian supplies between the north and south.
Professor Clark suggested Kyiv’s forces had maintained their position and had secured high ground near Miluvatke with the aim of “artillery-barraging” the Russians.
He added: “Both in Bakhmut and near the P66 highway the Russians are losing a lot of people.”
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The UK Ministry of Defence has expressed concern over the military capability of Russian conscripts.
Facing a shortage of military leaders and training facilities, it is likely most of the troops deployed as part of Vladimir Putin’s partial mobilisation received very little combat training before their arrival on the frontline.
A government report noted: “Newly mobilised conscripts likely have minimal training or no training at all. Experienced officers and trainers have been deployed to fight in Ukraine and some have likely been killed in the conflict.”
In a desperate bid to boost numbers, the Kremlin has forced thousands of undertrained men into the Russian army, a decision the UK Ministry of Defence has suggested is not likely to provide “additional offensive combat capability”.
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