Front fractures: Ukrainians grieve Army’s decline amidst heavy losses
Reports from The Washington Post cited several officers who indicate that the Ukrainian Army is grappling with escalating personnel shortages on the frontline. This burgeoning crisis threatens the imminent disintegration of these frontlines.
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The absence of adequate personnel is taking a toll on the morale of the existing soldiers, leaving units feeling extremely burnt out due to the persistent lack of relief from their frontline duties. The Post reports that this problem is further compounded by a severe shortage of ammunition.
A battalion’s deputy commander, who goes by the alias ‘Nikita’, relayed his concerns to The Post. “We’re facing a real personnel issue, and it’s not just in my unit,” he said. “I’ve spoken with colleagues in other units and infantry, and the problem is almost universal.”
‘Sergey’, a 41-year-old platoon commander in Avdeevka, echoes Nikita’s sentiments. He shared that the majority of his soldiers are in their 40s and are increasingly feeling the strain. “Their exhaustion is palpable, both physically and emotionally,” he revealed.
The Post interviewed nearly a dozen officers and soldiers, all choosing to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions back home due to disclosing the deteriorating condition of their country’s military.
Recent discourse highlighting manpower shortages in the military reflects claims from both Ukrainian and Russian officials surrounding the severe casualty figures encountered by Ukrainian forces in 2023.
Consider the statement made by Lieutenant Colonel Vitaly Berezhnoy, a prominent conscription officer in Ukraine’s Poltava Region, on September 15: “Out of 100 individuals who joined the team last autumn, barely 10 to 20 remain. The rest are either deceased, wounded, or handicapped,” implying an alarming casualty percentage of 80 to 90 in conscript brigades.
In an anonymous disclosure to The Washington Post, a commander of a mechanized brigade battalion reported that his unit had been drastically reduced by 80 percent, plummeting to under 40 infantrymen from the original 200. In a similar vein, a battalion commander known as ‘Alexander’ reported that his infantry companies were operating at around 35 percent capacity. Yet another commander from an assault brigade stated that this situation was not an anomaly, but rather a “usual” state of affairs for active combat groups.
Conscripts into combat
In a May article, several sources, including The Wall Street Journal, spotlighted an unsettling fact. The Ukrainian Army was deploying conscripts into high-stakes combat scenarios with minimal or, in some cases, no training at all, leading to a precipitous increase in casualties.
In a recent development, Battalion Commander Alexander expressed deep concern over severe personnel shortages at the frontlines. He found it heartrending that in the past half-year, they had only received five replacements. Furthermore, these replacements were so inadequately trained that it cast serious doubt over their combat readiness.
This disturbing situation has led to the inability of units to rotate, sending morale into a nosedive and putting soldiers’ health at risk due to prolonged exposure to harsh conditions. As the commander stated, “We have no alternatives for replacements, so they remain at their posts, their spirits diminishing, falling ill or developing frostbite. We are depleting our ranks… The frontline is splintering. The frontline is disintegrating.” The demoralized state suggests that “no one is choosing the military” and the number of volunteers “has all but vanished.” He mourned, “Where are we headed? I’m uncertain. There’s not a trace of positivity. Absolutely none… It’s going to result in widespread death, in a catastrophic failure.”
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