A report has found the average Russian conscript survived just four and half months at the front line – with one in five dying within just two months.
Last year Vladimir Putin signed a decree to initiate a ‘partial military mobilisation’, drafting some 300,000 Russian citizens and shipping them off to fight in Ukraine to bolster his crumbling military force.
Unsurprisingly, conscripts began reporting horror stories from the front line within a matter of weeks, with freshly drafted units facing systemic issues that led to an eye-watering attrition rate.
New arrivals were sent charging into battle with shoddy equipment and limited ammunition by reckless commanders and were subsequently torn up by better trained and equipped Ukrainian defenders.
Those who managed to survive beyond their initial deployment found the promises of leave never materialised, and instead faced the prospect of near-certain death on the front line, or being tortured or killed for desertion.
Now, a research paper authored by Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT) and Russian independent outlet ‘Important Stories’, has revealed the harrowing impact of the war on Russian conscripts.
Russian conscripts called up for military service line up before their departure for garrisons as they gather at a recruitment centre in Simferopol, Crimea, April 25, 2023
A Ukrainian soldier examines a destroyed Russian tank in Tsupivka village in the north of Kharkiv Region, northeastern Ukraine
Conscripts began reporting horror stories from the frontline within a matter of weeks, with freshly drafted units facing systemic issues that led to an eye-watering attrition rate
In areas where the fighting was most intense, the period between mobilisation and death on the frontlines was measured in days, not weeks.
CIT analysts pointed to autumn 2022 and spring 2023 – characterised by intense fighting in and around Bakhmut in Donetsk and Svatove-Kreminna in Luhansk – as the most bloody time of the conflict in which conscripts were killed at an incredible rate.
‘The most intense periods in terms of losses are the fall of 2022 and the spring of 2023, they contribute significantly to the average life expectancy of those mobilised at the front,’ CIT explains.
‘Some already fell into a meat grinder in the area of Svatove and Kreminna in the autumn, where [the Russian military leadership] urgently needed to close the breakthrough [of the Ukrainian Armed Forces].
‘At the beginning, [mobilised troops] filled holes in order to urgently prevent the collapse of the front, to saturate it with manpower.
‘The record from military summons to grave is just a few days.’
The age range of conscripts killed in action further illustrates the toll mobilisation took on Russian society – particularly in poorer minority regions where the number of call ups was disproportionately high.
One victim named Anton Getman, from Russia’s southern Rostov region close to the Ukrainian border, was killed in November 2022 just weeks into his mobilisation aged just 19.
One in 10 conscripts killed in Ukraine were aged under 25, according to the report.
Meanwhile, Nikolai Isakov, a former Major who was recalled to fight after war broke out, was killed eight months after being mobilised aged 62.
Missiles are launched from a helicopter of the Ukraine’s 18th Army Aviation Brigade on September 19, 2023 in the Donetsk Region, Ukraine
Vladimir Putin one year ago signed a decree to initiate a ‘partial military mobilisation’, drafting some 300,000 Russian citizens and shipping them off to fight in Ukraine to bolster his crumbling military force
Russian conscripts rail against conditions and their treatment as they depart Belgorod
Ukrainian servicemen of the 3rd Assault Brigade fire a 122mm mortar towards Russian positions at the front line, near Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Sunday, July 2, 2023
CIT analysts went on to explain how the Russian army’s unstructured combat system contributes to such high attrition rates and reduces the effectiveness of those who do survive.
‘At the very beginning they were told: ”You will serve for six months and go home, no one will send you to the front line” – and they thought: ”Now we’ll quickly go, get medals, money and come back.”
‘Now many conscripts complain that they have been serving for 11 months and have never been home.
‘Once mobilisation begins, they can no longer refuse to participate [in the war] with impunity, and we are seeing a growing level of criminal prosecution for unauthorised abandonment of a unit.
‘Why aren’t they sent on vacation? Because [commanders] are afraid that if you send 100 people on vacation, only half will return.’
The report comes as Ukrainian forces mounted coordinated assaults on several villages in the eastern Donetsk region and began heavily shelling the city of Bakhmut, a Russian-installed official in the region said Friday.
A soldier from 57th Brigade of Ukrainian Army shoots an shoulder-grenade-launcher (RPG) during the military training at a shooting range in an undisclosed location behind the front line as the war between Russia and Ukraine continues in Donbas region, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on September 21, 2023
An assault unit commander from the 3rd Assault Brigade who goes by the call sign ‘Fedia’ raises the Ukrainian flag as a symbol of liberation of the frontline village of Andriivka, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023
A woman walks past a residential building damaged by a Russian military strike, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Pokrovsk, Donetsk region, Ukraine September 21, 2023
The industrial territory has suffered the brunt of fighting since Russia’s offensive and the battle for Bakhmut is the longest and one of the bloodiest of the conflict.
‘Over the past 24 hours in the Krasnolimansk direction, the enemy took a number of actions and conducted combat reconnaissance in several directions at once,’ Denis Pushilin said on social media.
He listed several villages in the north of Donetsk near the city of Lyman, which is under Ukrainian control, and claimed the assaults were suppressed by Russian forces.
Bakhmut was captured by Russian forces in May after months of brutal fighting but Ukrainian forces immediately began pushing back around its flanks and have recaptured several destroyed villages.
‘The situation in (Bakhmut) remains hot, (the city) itself is under chaotic shelling,’ Pushilin said in the video statement on social media.
Pushilin also said Ukrainian forces are massing assault battalions north of the town that once had an estimated population of 70,000 people.
Ukrainian forces launched a counteroffensive against heavily entrenched Russian positions in June but progress has been slow.