‘Unjustified Losses.’ A Regiment Of Demoralized Russian Draftees Begs Vladimir Putin For Mercy—But Putin Isn’t Listening.

As Russian losses in Ukraine deepened last year, the Kremlin drafted hundreds of unfit, middle-age men in Irkutsk Oblast in southern Siberia, gave them a month of cursory training and formed a new army unit—the 1439th Regiment.

In a series of disastrous assaults on Ukrainian positions in Avdiivka—in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region—in late February and early March, the 1439th Regiment suffered devastating casualties.

“There is nothing left of the regiment,” one 1439th draftee told Radio Free Europe.

The 1439th Regiment’s tragic tale is illustrative of a wider crisis. Having lost as many as 270,000 soldiers killed and wounded in Ukraine in the first year of the wider war, the Russian army increasingly relies on those 300,000 conscripts it drafted last year.

These conscripts are poorly-equipped, ambivalently led and—if the 1439th’s experience is any indication—demoralized. But don’t count on the draftee’s dire predicament to motivate the Kremlin to change how it generates and deploys its forces.

The 1439th Regiment’s beleaguered troopers and their relatives repeatedly have pleaded with Russian president Vladimir Putin for mercy. Putin has ignored them.

The 1439th fights as part of the 1st Slavic Brigade, which belongs to the army of the separatist Donetsk People’s Republic. The brigade rides in outdated T-72 tanks and BMP-1 fighting vehicles supported by equally outdated 2S1 howitzers.

The 1st Slavic Brigade in late 2022 captured the village of Opytne, a mile west of Donetsk. With the ruins of Opytne under Russian control, the brigade in recent months has turned its attention to Avdiivka, two miles farther north.

The Ukrainians were willing to trade Opytne for time and an opportunity to bleed Russian and separatist forces. Avdiivka is another matter. The Ukrainian military clearly intends to hold the city. Elements of the Ukrainian army’s 53rd Mechanized Brigade and the Ukrainian navy’s 36th Marine Brigade have dug in south of Avdiivka. The army’s 55th Artillery Brigade lends fire support.

Ukrainian defenses around Avdiivka are daunting. Too daunting, it turns out, for the 1st Slavic Brigade and its Siberian draftees from the 1439th Regiment.

Losses were so bad after a series of failed assaults that draftees and their wives four times recorded direct appeals to Putin for relief. “We were sent to the combat line without … military IDs, without ammunition, without proper training,” the draftees said in one statement.

“We ask you to take us out of the zone of contact and sort it out—[deal] with the people responsible for this outrage, who have sent unprepared mobilized men to the front line—[and ask you] to avoid large, unjustified losses,” the 1439th told Putin.

The appeals didn’t work. Military officials confiscated the regiments’ phones and arrested two troopers for sedition. In what might be an escalation of the regimental protest, or might be an effort to appease the restive regiment, the governor of Irkutsk on Friday traveled to the front to deliver to the 1439th six tons of vans, generators, winter clothes and drones.

It’s not clear how much combat power the 1439th Regiment has left. But the battle for Avdiivka isn’t over. Unless the 1439th Regiment really has disintegrated, its awful plight continues.

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Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidaxe/2023/03/07/unjustified-losses-a-regiment-of-demoralized-russian-draftees-begs-vladimir-putin-for-mercy-but-putin-isnt-listening/