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Nov 14 18 tweets 4 min read
1/ Russian mobilised troops have lost half their number killed under constant Ukrainian bombardment near Svatove in under a month. They are drinking out of puddles and are being fed only every two or three days, but fear being shot by their own side if they try to surrender. ⬇️
2/ The independent Russian media collective Astra has published an account of one of the soldiers concerned, a 38-year-old mechanic from the village of Znamensk near Kaliningrad. Though the village only has 4,000 inhabitants, almost all the men of fighting age were mobilised.
3/ The soldier's family begged him not to agree to be mobilised but he told them it was pointless to hide because "everyone in the village knows each other and anyone attempting to get away from the draft will still end up being taken away."
4/ According to the man's sister, all the men went to the local enlistment office on 25 September. "He was in contact with me by video link from there. I saw these drunken men. I saw the women roaring in the background. Basically, it was all classic."
5/ Some were granted exemptions, but the rest were taken away to join the 7th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Regiment in Kalingrad city. The sister says: "While they were in the unit in Kaliningrad, he was drinking heavily. They were all drinking. He didn't do anything wrong."
6/ "It even felt like it was encouraged there. So people would drink and not think about the purpose of their mobilisation or the purpose of this war."
7/ Despite an earlier promise from the Governor of Kaliningrad that the men would stay in the region to defend it, on 6 October they were sent to Belgorod. The only training they had received in the two weeks previously was how to march.
8/ By 16 October they were in the forests in the Lugansk region of eastern Ukraine. He called his family to send him money because Russian bank cards did not work there. The men were given no provisions and had to supply themselves using their own money.
9/ "They tried to provide at least something for themselves: some cigarettes and food or at least something to buy themselves. He was saying that they were on the third line, but everything was exploding and shooting there, it was scary. That was his last call."
10/ The soldier called his family again 16 days later (i.e. around 1 November) and told them about what he was now enduring:

"He said they were now on the front line, on the very first line. Said he could see the Ukrainian military with his own eyes."
11/ "Said they were being watched by drones and there were only 20 of their group of 40 left.

He said they were located around 15 kilometres from Svatove. Communication was very bad ..."
12/ "He said that contract [professional] soldiers were on the second and third lines, and the mobilised were on the first.

Every two or three days they were given food, their belongings were all lost. Anyone who tries to escape is brought back."
13/ "Now they live in trenches under constant shelling and do not know what to do. I asked him if it was possible to escape from there or surrender. He said that this is also unrealistic, they will be shot in the back, or in the chest, they will not understand."
14/ His sister says that she has a feeling that the Russian army "are just filling cracks, using them as meat. As if they are used as a shield for the Ukrainians to shoot at the mobilized and when the Ukrainians get tired, the professional Russian military will go into battle."
15/ Despite the heavy losses, she says the other villagers in Znamensk strongly support the war. "They are in favour of everything that is going on: they shout, with obscenities, with fists, that everything is right, that everything is just as it should be."
16/ "They all watch TV, many of them, who are 70 years old, it is easier for them to believe the TV, than to analyze and break their whole way of thinking – it is scarier for them. They cry when men are taken away to war, but they take it for granted." /end

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More from @ChrisO_wiki

Nov 16
1/ The Russian army is holding many as 300 mobilised Russian soldiers captive in the basement of the House of Culture (=cultural centre) of the village of Zaitseve in Luhansk oblast, giving them hardly any food, according to the independent Astra media collective. ⬇️ Image
2/ The men are being held there for refusing to return to the front lines. According to the wife of one of them, "My husband says that there are already about 300 of them. New people are constantly brought in."
3/ "This is in a large basement in the House of Culture in Zaitseve. They are fed once a day: one dry ration [pack] for 5-6 people. [The officers] constantly make threats."
Read 7 tweets
Nov 15
1/ A video emerged a couple of days ago of a verbal confrontation between mobilised Russian troops and an officer (see below from @wartranslated). Now the mobilised soldier at the centre of the argument faces charges and up to 15 years in prison. ⬇️
2/ According to the "Beware the News" Telegram channel, the soldier is a man named Aleksandr Leshkov with the rank of private. The official investigation claims that "Leshkov started the conflict on the parade ground of the Patriot Centre in order to draw attention to himself."
3/ Beware the News reports that witnesses said that Leshkov "represented the interests of his colleagues" and it was the officer who pushed him.
Read 17 tweets
Nov 15
1/ Poorly equipped mobilised Russian troops on the left bank of the Dnieper, south of Kherson, have abandoned their positions in the face of Ukrainian mortar and drone attacks against which they have no defence. ⬇️ Image
2/ Mobilised soldiers from Smolensk oblast say they were sent from place to place to dig trenches, building fortifications from old Soviet slabs. The men were not informed by their superiors of the Ukrainian recapture of Kherson.
3/ The men were equipped with only old short-range weapons – Kalashnikov and Mosin rifles and grenade launchers. They were defenceless against mortar and drone attacks and were shelled while "doing their everyday business" (going to the toilet?), causing deaths.
Read 5 tweets
Nov 15
1/ Russia's poorly trained and armed mobilised soldiers are acting as a human wall blocking Ukrainian advances with their bodies, and are being replaced as fast as they are killed, according to accounts from Ukrainian troops on the front line. ⬇️
2/ Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFERL) has published an interesting insight into what effect the mobilised Russians are having on Ukraine's offensive in the small part of the Kharkiv region that remains under occupation. A tank crewman interviewed by RFERL says:
3/ "There are too many of them here. We hit their positions with artillery and thought we could advance, but [Russian forces] brought more soldiers there. I can't say they are badly trained, but they don't seem to realise where they are going."
Read 5 tweets
Nov 14
1/ Interesting things appear to be happening currently on the Kinburn Peninsula (often erroneously called the Kinburn Spit), south-west of Kherson. Although exactly what is still uncertain, it's worth taking a look at why Kinburn matters.
2/ The Kinburn Peninsula is the hook-shaped peninsula at the mouth of the Dnieper Estuary. It's about 40 km (25 mi) long and about 9 km (6 mi) wide. The Kinburn Spit is the narrow curving 'tail', 8.5 km long, that extends into the estuary at the far west end of the peninsula. Image
3/ The peninsula is flat and sandy, with many small lakes and salt marshes. It's partly wooded with oaks and pines. There are only four small villages on the peninsula with about 850 pre-war inhabitants. Oddly, the border between Mykolaiv and Kherson oblasts runs between them. Image
Read 20 tweets
Nov 13
1/ Russia's regions lack money to pay mobilised soldiers, leading to the mobilised and their families being paid with potatoes, fish, coal, firewood, deer carcasses or not getting any payment at all. Many are now complaining: "The Motherland has rotted away," says one wife. ⬇️
2/ A large portion of the cost of mobilisation is being paid by Russia's regions. Many are paying a one-time allowance to the men and their families to enable them to cover the cost of the men's absence. The Russian federal budget covers the war's direct costs.
3/ On 19 October 2022, Putin ordered the regions to give a 195,000 ruble ($3,220) payment to the mobilised. Many regions were already providing support payments, ranging from from 50,000 rubles ($825) in the Kostroma region to 300,000 ($5,000) in the Sakhalin region.
Read 23 tweets

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