Men who introduced themselves as servicemen of the Storm Squad, the fifth brigade of the first corps of the eighth army of Russia, have recorded a video message addressed to Russian President Vladimir Putin, in which they say that their commanders, whom they had “never seen”, had abandoned them in trenches near Ukraine’s Vuhledar without any documentation or provisions. The video was posted on pro-Russian government Telegram channels.
Around 20 men are seen in the video. Some of them are wearing hats with the Z symbol. According to the men, they are members of a Kaliningrad training unit, although at the moment they are deployed in the Vodyane village, Donetsk region.
“This is the Vodyane village, near Donetsk.
“The place where we are successfully advancing, according to our media. But in truth, that’s not entirely the case.
“[We’re suffering] very heavy losses here. <…> It’s like we’re not even here. People without documentation are abandoned in trenches as if they were beggars and swamped with corpses,” the servicemen say in the video.
According to the soldiers, they spent two weeks under artillery and mortar fire. “Our commanders make us [advance] against machine guns, mortars, tanks. We suffered heavy losses — 304 [killed], 22 [wounded]. The commander of our company was killed.
“Anti-retreat forces were used against us and we weren’t allowed to leave our positions.
“Now, we’re not allowed to go anywhere at all, they are promising to destroy us.
“<…> They threatened to shoot us if we didn’t advance… On our exit, they want to destroy as [because] we’re witnesses of our negligent, criminal commanders’ actions,” the men claim.
They also had to pay for their own treatment in a hospital, otherwise the soldiers were refused hospitalisation and were promised to “be deployed to the front line”. The wounded were discharged three days after hospitalisation and sent to the front line again, after being made to pay 20,000 rubles (€240), the men say in the video.
Georgian OSINT experts claim that they were able to identify the men in the video using their social media. A post on Telegram channel OSINT Georgia states that the men in the video are not draftees, they are military with combat experience. In particular, they fought in the North Caucasus and the self-proclaimed Donetsk “people’s republic”.
According to the analysts, one of the men in the video is Nikolay Rakov, he is a 47-year-old Kaliningrad native, he graduated from Kaliningrad’s Higher Engineering School for Engineering Corps. Another man is Sergey Moldanov, 39, from the city of Arkhangelsk.
At the beginning of March, draftees from the Belgorod regions’ territorial defence unit recorded a video address to complain about being deployed to the frontlines to assault targets without receiving proper training. Earlier, a video emerged online showing Orenburg region draftees complaining that the Donetsk “people’s republic” militia was shipping them off to the frontlines as cannon fodder.
It was previously reported that most Irkutsk draftees from the 1439 regiment, who had complained about threats made by their commanders several times, had died while assaulting the Avdiivka defence lines. They appealed to Putin thrice: they recorded two video messages asking for his help; the third time, their wives filed an official inquiry with the online-reception of the Chief Military Prosecutor’s Office.