Desperate Russian troops claim Stalinist “blocking units” have been deployed by their generals to stop them from retreating after they are slaughtered by Ukrainian forces. In a video posted by Wertranslated on Twitter, soldiers from Russian forces can be seen in a cramped room wearing the ‘Z’ symbols adopted by Vladimir Putin’s forces on their uniforms.
The narrator of the video, which is thought to have been posted by the troops on TikTok originally, introduces the footage by saying the men shown are “the remnants of the ‘Storm’ unit” from the Russian “5th Brigade, 1st Corps, 8th Army”.
He says the unit consisted of 161 men at the start of operations and pans the camera around the rooms showing some of the men who are left in the small space.
A man who introduces himself as the unit commander says they had an objective of “Vodyane Village”, a settlement in the hotly-fought-over Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine close to the city of Mariupol.
The commander said: “It was difficult to conduct an assault in this section as the enemy had adjusted fire at all points. As a result, our commander made the decision to send us towards (enemy) machine guns, mortars, tanks.”
He said the unit was under “open mortar fire” for 14 days during the battle and took “huge losses” with “22 men dead and 34 wounded”, as well as their company commander killed. The unit held one kilometre of frontline.
He recounts his men made the decision to head back to the Russian army headquarters and that they discovered an “evacuation was being planned”.
But the unit c/o reveals they could not escape because “blocking units behind us weren’t letting us out of positions… people (Russian soldiers) were afraid of death in the front and behind.”
During World War II, Soviet dictator Josef Stalin famously issued the Order No. 227 to create units to stop under-equipped Red Army troops from retreating in the face of the invading Nazi war machine.
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The order created ‘blocking detachments’ that had powers to imprison and shoot any Russian troops leaving the frontline.
The officer said his men are now not allowed to go anywhere and that Russian command were threatening to “destroy us one by one.” He said his troops are in “grave danger” and he appealled directly to the “Commander-in-Chief” to intervene.
Another soldier in the group is then invited to speak, who says he is from another unit attached to the “Storm” group.
Speaking to the camera he claims Russian command have been “systematically taxing” troops of their money, and if they refuse to pay they are sent to the frontline.
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He said money was also being taken from the wounded in hospitals and that men with injuries were being sent back to the frontline with shrapnel still in their bodies.
Many of the soldiers speaking in the video said their commanding officers were giving “criminal orders” and that units like theirs were being “destroyed”.
The men said reports in Russian media that their military operations were “successful” were in reality not right and that they were suffering “very, very substantial losses”.