A group of Russian bloggers estimates that 20% to 40% of Russian soldiers who have already been in Ukraine to fight refuse to return. “Special operation” status rather than war make punishment more difficult.
Hundreds of Russian soldiers are refusing to fight in Ukraine, opting to be transferred and fired from the army. In many cases, they choose to face punishment for their refusal, as they know it will be light, as Russia is technically not at war. After all, the Kremlin continues to maintain that its offensive in Ukraine is a “special military operation”.
The Guardian spoke to a soldier from the elite Russian army brigade, identified as Dmitri in the British newspaper article, as he chose not to reveal his real name.
Dmitri told The Guardian that when his brigade was told in early April that he had to prepare for a second deployment to Ukraine, soldiers were frightened by the idea.
Dmitri’s brigade was in Ukraine at the start of the conflict and witnessed the bloody fighting on the ground. “Many of us just didn’t want to go back,” Dmitri said. “I want to go back to my family and not in a coffin.”
Along with eight other soldiers, Dmitri told his commanders that he refused to fight in Ukraine again. “They were furious. But eventually, they calmed down because there wasn’t much they could do,” he reported.
Shortly afterward, Dmitri was transferred to Belgorod, a Russian city near the Ukrainian border. “I have no reason to feel ashamed. We are not officially in a state of war, so they cannot force me to go,” he explained.
Dmitri’s case illustrates the Russian army’s difficulty in the face of the Kremlin’s decision not to officially declare war on Ukraine. Under Russian military rules, soldiers who refuse to fight in Ukraine can be discharged but not prosecuted, said Mikhail Benyash, a lawyer who has advised Russian soldiers who prefer not to fight in the neighboring country.
The lawyer revealed that “hundreds and hundreds” of soldiers have already contacted his team to ask for advice on how to avoid fighting in Ukraine.
Source: With Agencies