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60 elite Russian paratroopers refused to fight in Ukraine invasion, report says


Russian paratroopers march during the military parade in Red Square on May 9, 2021 in Moscow, RussiaMikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

  • At least 60 Russian paratroopers from a unit in Pskov province have refused to fight in Ukraine, according to a report.

  • The troops have been fired and some face criminal charges, a Russian newspaper reported.

  • Russian forces have suffered heavy casualties and reports suggest that morale is deteriorating.

Up to 60 Russian paratroopers from a unit in Pskov province refused to fight in Ukraine, according to the independent Russian newspaper Pskovskaya Gubernia.

The troops were fired and some were threatened with criminal prosecution for desertion or failure to comply with an order, the newspaper writes on its Telegram channel.

Insider could not independently verify the report.

Pskovskaya Gubernia is a Russian newspaper known for its independent reporting. Amid the country’s crackdown on independent media, authorities last month raided the newspaper’s offices and the homes of senior employees, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Local activist Nikolay Kuzmin, who is affiliated with the opposition Yabloko party in Russia, appeared to corroborate the report on Telegram.

Kuzmin said he spoke to a driver who took some of the paratroopers from Belarus back to Pskov, an important base for Russian airborne forces.

The Russian army’s airborne force, the VDV, suffered heavy losses in Ukraine, which undermined its former “elite” status.

One unit within the VDV, the famous 331st Guards Parachute Regiment, lost its commander, Colonel Sergei Sukharev, and at least 39 other members.

Russian forces have suffered heavy casualties since they began their invasion of Ukraine, and reports suggest morale is deteriorating.

The Pskov paratroopers were not the only ones who refused to fight.

At least 11 members of the Russian National Guard from Rosgvardia in the Khakassia region also rebelled, Newsweek reported, citing Russian-language news outlet New Focus.

Human rights lawyer Pavel Chikhov said on Telegram that Captain Farid Chitav and 11 of his Rosgvardia subordinates refused to invade Ukraine on February 25 because the orders were ‘illegal’, Newsweek reported. .

Some captured Russians said their leaders lied to them about Ukraine’s invasion plan, which left them unprepared in the face of fierce resistance.

Despite the Russian army’s many advantages, it failed to achieve the quick victory it hoped for in Ukraine.

British intelligence chief Jeremy Fleming said Russian President Vladimir Putin “massively misjudged” the situation before invading, in part because his advisers were “afraid to tell him the truth”.

NATO estimated last month that between 7,000 and 15,000 Russian troops had been killed in action in Ukraine.

In a rare candid admission, a Kremlin spokesman admitted on Sky News on Thursday that Russia had “significant troop losses and this is a huge tragedy for us”.

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