Russian forces are killing their own troops using drones so they can’t be captured by Ukraine, Kyiv’s military and security services have claimed.

Spokesman for the Tauride Defense Forces, Oleksandr Stupun, made the claim on national TV on Monday evening, saying: “The fact is that the Russians do not allow their soldiers to surrender.

“There have even been cases when Russian drones have killed their own wounded.”

Andriy Yusov, a representative of Ukrainian intelligence (HUR), told Kyiv Post such incidents have been recorded “repeatedly, including by Ukrainian aerial reconnaissance using [drones].”

Referring to the documented cases of Russian units firing on their comrades trying to escape the front lines, he said: “Barrier units and killing their own soldiers is what the Russian army is really using against its own.

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“Those who refuse to go into battle and carry out criminal orders or go on meat assaults. This is all a tactic of terror and intimidation of our own people in order to reduce the number of refuseniks, deserters, and those who voluntarily surrender.

“This is actually a reaction to the fact that there are quite a few people willing to surrender to Ukrainian captivity.”

According to Ukrainian figures, over the past three weeks around 80 Russians have surrendered in the Tavriya sector, one of the hottest areas of fighting around the besieged town of Avdiivka.

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Security Guarantees for Ukraine, Ratcheting up Sanctions, Kharkiv Offensive

More from the author’s weekly update in his Newsletter on several key developments.

Russia’s apparent tactic of killing its own troops to avoid them being captured poses a practical problem for Ukraine – fewer POWs to swap for captured Ukrainian soldiers.

Yusov added: “No matter how much we hate the Russian occupiers and invaders, of course, replenishing Russian prisoners in Ukrainian captivity is also important to speed up the return of our defenders from Russian captivity.”

While there is currently no video evidence specifically of drones being used by Russia to kill its own troops, there are plenty of examples of them using other methods.

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Earlier this year footage emerged of Russian barrier units firing on their own men trying to escape, a practice supported by evidence obtained with POWs.

Another video released in October appeared to show a Russian soldier shooting dead a wounded fellow soldier before looting his body.

And in interviews with Kyiv Post, Russian POWs say they were told to blow themselves up with a grenade rather than be captured and face “Ukrainian torture.”

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