Taylor Hicks

Pro-Russia Donbas Deploys Poorly Trained

Pro-Russia Donbas Deploys Poorly Trained

-Pro-Russia Donbas Deploys Poorly Trained, Ill-Equipped Conscripts,Say Sources

Russia-Ukraine War: Military conscripts in the Russian-backed Donbas region have been sent into front-line combat against Ukrainian troops with no training, little food and water, and inadequate weapons, sources said.

London: Military conscripts in the Russian-backed Donbas region have been sent into front-line combat against Ukrainian troops with no training, little food and water, and inadequate weapons, six people in the separatist province told Reuters.
The new accounts of untrained and ill-equipped conscripts being deployed are a fresh indication of how stretched the military resources at the Kremlin's disposal are, over a month into a war that has seen Moscow's forces hobbled by logistical problems and held up by fierce Ukrainian resistance.

One of the people, a student conscripted in late February, said a fellow fighter told him to prepare to repel a close-quarter attack by Ukrainian forces in southwest Donbas but "I don't even know how to fire an automatic weapon."

The student and his unit fired back and evaded capture, but he was injured in a later battle. He did not say when the fighting took place.

While some information indicating poor conditions and morale among Donbas conscripts has emerged in social media and some local media outlets, Reuters was able to assemble one of the most comprehensive pictures to date.

Besides the student draftee, Reuters spoke to three wives of conscripts who have mobile phone contact with their partners, one acquaintance of a draftee, and one source close to the pro-Russian separatist leadership who is helping to organize supplies for the Donbas armed forces.

Reuters verified the identity of the student, as well as the other sources and the draftees they are associated with. The news agency was unable to confirm independently the accounts of what happened to the men once they were drafted.

The six sources all asked that their full names not be published, saying that they feared reprisals for speaking to foreign media.

The Donbas armed forces are fighting alongside Russian soldiers but are not part of the Russian armed forces, which have different rules about which troops they send into combat.

Several Donbas draftees have been issued with a rifle called a Mosin, which was developed in the late 19th century and went out of production decades ago, according to three people who saw conscripts from the separatist region using the weapon. Images shared on social media, that Reuters has not been able to verify independently, also showed Donbas fighters with Mosin rifles.

The student said he was forced to drink water from a fetid pond because of lack of supplies. Two other sources in contact with draftees also told Reuters the men had to drink untreated water.

Some Donbas conscripts were given the highly dangerous mission of drawing enemy fire onto themselves so other units could identify the Ukrainian positions and bomb them, according to one of the sources and video testimony from a prisoner of war published by Ukrainian forces.

Asked to comment about the treatment and low morale of the Donbass draftees, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was a question for the Donetsk People's Republic (DNR), the self-proclaimed separatist entity in Donbas. The Russian defence ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

A spokeswoman for the DNR administration, after viewing Reuters questions, said there would be no response on Friday. She did not say when the administration would reply. Messages left with a spokesman for the separatist military went unanswered.

After being pushed to the front line near the port of Mariupol -- scene of the heaviest fighting in the war -- a group of about 135 Donbas conscripts laid down their arms and refused to fight on, according to Veronika, the partner of a conscript, who said her husband was among them. Marina, partner of another conscript, said she had been in con

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