Russia increasingly relying on units made up of convicts, ISW report says

9 August 2022, 01:05 PM
Evacuation from Bakhmut (Donetsk Oblast): the city and its surroundings are intensively shelled by Russian troops (Photo:REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis)

Evacuation from Bakhmut (Donetsk Oblast): the city and its surroundings are intensively shelled by Russian troops (Photo:REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis)

The Russian invasion army in Ukraine, hoping to subjugate occupied Ukrainian territories, is likely increasingly reliant on poorly trained units, including some comprised of convicts, U.S. think tank the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said in its Aug. 8 report.

ISW suggested that recently-formed Russian battalions “worse trained, less professional, and more brutal to occupied populations,” compared to regular professional Russian troops – or even conscripts, who at least had proper training and drilling before their Ukraine deployment.

“Such deployments may reduce the competence of occupation authorities and counter-partisan operations and may increase Ukrainian support for movements that resist Russia’s occupation,” the report said.

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Other conclusions are as follows:

Russian forces in Donetsk Oblast continued ground attacks to the north-west of Slovyansk and to the east and south of Bakhmut on August 8. Ukraine’s General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces defeated Russian reconnaissance groups of unspecified echelons near Bakhmutske, and Yakovlivka — villages approximately 15 kilometers northeast of Bakhmut —and that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian ground assaults near Zaitseve and Vershyna — villages approximately 10 kilometers southeast of Bakhmut.

Russian forces likely seek to establish control over Soledar to Bakhmut’s north and Zaitseve to Bakhmut’s south to set conditions to disrupt Ukrainian control over the T0513 trunk road that supports Ukrainian frontline positions in northeast Donetsk Oblast.

Russian invaders have postponed reopening the Antonivka Road Bridge near Kherson, after the latest Ukrainian artillery strike further damaged the bridge and nearby construction equipment.

An alleged message from Russian Major General Valery Vasilev threatening to destroy Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant is likely fake, ISW said, but this has drawn attention away from very real threats of a nuclear disaster caused by Russian troops occupying the facility.

“Russian forces are attacking Ukrainian positions from within the plant, preventing Ukrainian return fire and essentially using the plant as a nuclear shield,” ISW said in the report.

“ISW continues to assess that Russian forces are likely leveraging the threat of nuclear disaster to degrade Western will to provide military support to a Ukrainian counteroffensive.”

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