Russian forces operating in Ukraine have been plagued with logistical problems since the onset of hostilities. Inability to effectively evacuate casualties, resupply, and refuel frontline combat units were certainly a major factor in the Russian decision to withdrawal from northern Ukraine and Kyiv. In part, it also explains why the Russians shifted their main effort to eastern Ukraine. This move, which seeks to secure the breakaway provinces in Donbas, significantly shortened supply routes which now run largely through more secure areas that have been under Russian control for some time now. Regardless, it appears that supply problems continue to be a problem for some Russian forces. The most recent in a series of intercepted audio of phone calls between Russian servicemen and their family members, posted on the Ukraine State Security YouTube channel, exposed systemic disfunction in the Russian logistical chain.
In this conversation a Russian soldier complains to his brother about corruption in the supply line. After receiving deliveries of food and cigarettes he says that his officers left troops in the field taking supplies with them – “Our command, they received provisions: cigarettes, food… You know what they did? Our leadership fled, for ***** sake, dumped us and ***** off.” He also tells his brother how his unit was surrounded and cut off in the woods for three days without rations or water. In addition, he mentions that they received orders from a colonel to shoot civilians and have been threatened with criminal prosecution for desertion. The brother advises the soldier to shoot his commander or to file a complaint with the military prosecutor’s office.
In separate news, Ukraine claims to have killed over 22,000 Russian military personnel to date. Intercepted audio appears to verify the fact that Russian units have sustained significant casualty rates in since the beginning of their “special operation” in Ukraine. In the most recent of these, posted nine days ago on YouTube, Ukraine claimed to have inflicted seventy percent casualties (killed, wounded, or captured) on some Russian units operating near Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine. As proof of this Ukraine State Security posted on their YouTube site audio of a phone call between a Russian contract soldier and his wife. In the call, the soldier tells his wife that his regiment has lost over 1,000 men and only has 400 combat effective personnel left. This would equate to roughly seventy percent of a Russian tank regiment which consists of three tank battalions with an attached motorized rifle regiment (total of ninety-three tanks, forty-two infantry fighting vehicles, and 1,400-1,500 men).
The man in the call goes on to tell his wife that troops have no confidence in victory and think only of retreating to Russia. He describes being shot at with small arms, running to take cover, and surviving devastating artillery and rocket strikes. The soldier confides in his wife that he has reached his breaking point and plans to get out of his military service contract as soon as he can. This is one of several audio cuts released by Ukraine authorities in which Russian troops manifest lack of will to fight. Unmotivated Russian troops matched against tenacious Ukrainian resistance present a significant problem for Russian leadership.