Just a modest local view from the Kharkiv region on the increase in fatigue among the Russian and Ukrainian frontline troops during summer 2023.
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The bloody counter-offensive dragged on for months, which turned into a new meat grinder on the Somme after the new Verdun battle near Bakhmut, is being noticeably reflected in the social atmosphere. The interlocutor of Assembly, driving trains in the Kharkov subway, anonymously told back on June 25:
"My brother is fighting near Bakhmut, the 31st assault brigade. Last week they went on the offensive - got such fight back that retreated further than they were before the offensive. The next day, the colonels arrived with threats. And where to attack, there are cannons, mortars, aircrafts. The day before yesterday, two battalions refused to fight at all. They didn’t feed the guys, they threatened to imprison them. Three battalions laid down their arms, because they were driven to the slaughter without support. 30 people were immediately laid on the ground. They gave a new commander, but it’s all the same. They barely took some village. There are no tanks, there is no Bradley, they are taking care of it, in order not to upset the West. But they are not taking care of the infantry - they gave two Polish sniper rifles and took them away. There is no food, only one dry ration. Were threatened to imprison, they answer: imprison, and who will come to our positions? Now they continue to fight somehow, but on the spot, without mood. Such things."
The same informant confirms the June article by Der Spiegel about tankers in the Armed Forces of Ukraine who imitate tank damage to avoid their going on the southern counteroffensive. "They stand still. They gave them a combat vehicle with a plastic hood. Once they went somewhere, it stalled, they barely dug it out. These vehicles are standing, no one wants to drive them, a death capsule," said that driver on August 5.
Also in the first half of August, a video interview of political blogger Yury Romanenko, close to Zelensky’s Office, with sniper Konstantin Proshinsky, who is fighting near Bakhmut, appeared. It received a resonance, including in the Western media, with the words that the army would not be against the "Korean scenario", as well as criticism of "tough mobilization" and a ban on leaving Ukraine for men, because "we will never win a war against Russia by numbers." But besides this, Proshinsky confirmed the Assembly’s information about saving Western heavy equipment by infantry attacks in the style of Russian "meat assaults" and about refusers in the Ukrainian army. According to the military, among the recruits recently sent to Bakhmut, the youngest was 52 years old. Among the rest were men with tuberculosis, hepatitis and diabetes. They were mobilized, allowed to spend the night in the enlistment office, and the next morning were sent to the front. Many of such fighters after the first battle write a refusal to participate in hostilities. This is not desertion, therefore it does not entail criminal liability - the applicant should be transferred to a supply company, and soon such companies "will number thousands of people," the guest of the program said.
Meanwhile, the advance of the Russian Armed Forces in the territory from Kupyansk to Kremenna, apparently, is even less successful than the Ukrainian attempts of breaking through to Azov Coast and Bakhmut. The fighting spirit of the occupiers is so-so too. Our colleagues from ASTRA published on August 9 and 11 new evidence about a clandestine basement for Russian refusers in Zaytsevo, northeast of the Lugansk region. Mobilized of the "Storm" detachment (military unit 31134) complained to their families how they were being forced to go to certain death. Relatives of several servicemen told ASTRA about this, submitting their complaints to the Investigative Committee, as well as an audio recording of a conversation with one of the mobilized. On the recording, the fighter says that they will have a fourth assault in a row, they are thrown into attacks without weapons and rest: "We are only 20 out of 100 left from "Storm". That's almost 20 minutes of combat. <...> We are being forced to go into the minefields. Why are we so driven there? Because the authorities have already reported that they have already taken everything. <...> For those who went into denial, the commander personally shot through the legs." All 24 survivors were sent to the basement in Zaytsevo, contact with them disappeared. As the editor of the channel, Anastasia Chumakova, added to us, the inmates there are constantly different.
The Siberian opposition resource "People of Baikal" posted on July 25 about a mobilized resident of Irkutsk named Alexander, who served in the "Storm" unit of the 90th tank division. In early March 2023, he, along with three mates, left the position and went to Alexandrovsk, where they rented an apartment and drank alcohol. There they were detained and sent to the commandant's office. After that, Alexander was found dead near Chervonopopovka (also on the Lugansk-Kharkov borderland) with traces of a noose around his neck. "I realized that this is not the war that I imagined. This is extermination, we were prepared as a bait. Let them put me in prison, I won’t die for this," his brother Sergey retells the words of the deceased. He is trying to clarify the circumstances of death through the military prosecutor’s office and Investigative Committee.
And the timing for both states is running out. More or less warm September, and that's all - again cold, mud and positional clashes. Judging by the sharp tightening of the Russian conscription legislation, a new wave of open mobilization is coming there. However, until the presidential elections in 2024, their authorities are trying to limit themselves by forcing the signing of contracts of the most bonded social strata - convicts, conscripts and Central Asian migrants. Along with those who refuse to fight, both on the Ukrainian and Russian side it is already easy to meet a front-line soldier who vaguely suspects that he is being used as expendable material, but is afraid to admit it to himself. They like to ask random civilians why they are not in the trenches and are not going to go there, but somehow they do not ask the owners of life anything about doing business with representatives of the enemy and corruption in army purchases. How many of them will come to anti-war positions is still a question. It is only certain that if everything continues as it is now, then someday both states simply will not have the strength for new offensives.
The front line may not even change much compared to the current one, but it may also move to the Ukraine borders of 1991. The defeats of one army from another are not capable of ending the war on their own - they only force the losing regime to more actively pour new tons of human chips into the funeral pyre…
Recently, we have already told about the growing disappointment of Ukrainians in the prospects of overcoming poverty and corruption that feeds the desire to leave Ukraine at once after the war or even before.
In addition to this, you are welcome to take a look how at the enterprises in our Kharkov male workers are being replaced by women and pensioners like in Europe 1916 due to mobilisation.