Discipline and morale among Russian troops is so low that soldiers are being executed for not following orders, the White House said on Thursday.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, said that as well as individual cases of capital punishment, entire units were being threatened with death if they retreat from Ukrainian artillery fire.

“We have information that the Russian military has been actually executing soldiers who are refusing to follow orders,” he said.

“We also have information that Russian commanders are threatening to execute entire units if they seek to retreat from Ukrainian artillery fire,” he added.

“It's reprehensible.”

Kirby did not give further details when asked about the alleged executions or how the US  had obtained the information but reports of the practice have surfaced previously.


In March of this year, radio intercepts suggested Russian troops are being forced into combat under the threat of being shot by their own side.

The international intelligence community InformNapalm has revealed a batch of conversations among servicemen in one of the hottest areas in the combat zone, suggesting that the so-called barrage detachments, or anti-retreat forces, are enforcing discipline with threats of death.

In one intercepted conversation, the commander orders a group of occupiers to go on the offensive. Otherwise, they risk being shot from the rear.

ISW Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 19, 2024
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ISW Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 19, 2024

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And in June of this year, video emerged purportedly showing showing three armed Russian soldiers shooting at seven or more of their fellows as they ran away.

Russia has stepped up attacks near the town of Avdiivka in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region and the northeastern city of Kupyansk in a bid to move the front line forward before winter.

Moscow has suffered “significant losses” in the offensive including at least 125 armored vehicles and “thousands” of casualties, Kirby said.

“The Russian military appears to be using what we would call human wave tactics,” he said.


Intense Kremlin attacks attempting to gain ground against fortified Ukrainian positions in the eastern Donbas sector likely have pushed counts of Russian dead and wounded to near-record levels for the entire war.

You can read a full report about Russia's recent losses here.


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