At least 60 Russian paratroopers from a unit in Pskov province refused to fight in Ukraine, a report says.
The troops were fired and some are being threatened with criminal prosecution, a Russian newspaper reported.
Russian forces have suffered heavy losses and reports suggest that morale is deteriorating.
Up to 60 Russian paratroopers from one unit in Pskov province refused to fight in Ukraine, according to 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 paper wrote on its Telegram channel.
Insider was unable to verify the report independently.
Pskovskaya Gubernia is a Russian newspaper known for its independent reporting. Amid the country’s crackdown on independent media, last month authorities raided the paper’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 transported some of the paratroopers from Belarus back to Pskov, an important base for Russia’s airborne forces.
Russia’s military’s airborne force, the VDV, has suffered heavy losses in Ukraine, which has dented their previous “elite” status.
Russian forces have suffered heavy losses since it began its invasion of Ukraine, and reports suggest that morale is deteriorating.
The Pskov paratroopers are not the only ones reported to have refused to fight.
At least 11 members of Russia’s Rosgvardia National Guard in the Khakassia region similarly 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 said.
Some captured Russians have said that their leaders lied to them about the plan to invade Ukraine, which left them unprepared for the fierce resistance.
Despite the Russian military’s many advantages, it has failed to achieve the swift victory it had hoped for in Ukraine.
UK intelligence chief Jeremy Fleming said that Russian President Vladimir Putin “massively misjudged” the situation before invading, partly because his advisers are “afraid to tell him the truth.”
NATO estimated last month that between 7,000 and 15,000 Russian soldiers had been killed in action in Ukraine.
In a rare frank admission, a Kremlin spokesman admitted on Sky News on Thursday that Russia had “significant losses of troops and it’s a huge tragedy for us.”
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