The number of Russian troops killed in friendly fire incidents has surged recently due to poor morale and discipline, a Ukrainian colonel has said.

Oleksandr Shtupun, spokesperson for the Tavria grouping of troops, said continuing heavy losses among Moscow’s troops means “the level of morale and psychological condition is very low.”

Speaking to national television, he added: “The invaders are scared so they shoot at everything that moves.

“There have been more friendly fire incidents lately, involving both infantry and drones.”

Shtupun also said there has been an increase in the number of Russian soldiers refusing orders to assault Ukrainian positions.

“Russian armored vehicle crews are sabotaging participation in assaults in various ways,” he said.


“They know that the chance of survival is small, because tanks, IFVs, and APCs are the first to be hit in an attack.”

Numerous such incidents of Russian armored columns being obliterated have emerged during the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

One video from November – set to some inappropriately jaunty music – shows several Russia vehicles driving through fields in an undisclosed location near the embattled town in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine.

As the lead tank weaves across the crater-strewn landscape, it is hit by artillery fire from Ukraine’s 116th separate brigade.

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While Shtupun did not provide further details of Russian friendly fire incidents, there have been numerous documented cases in recent months.

In September, 27 Russian soldiers were killed by their own artillery as they retreated from the village of Opytne, close to Donetsk’s Sergey Prokofiev International Airport in eastern Ukraine.

The claim was originally made by Yuriy Mysiagin, a Ukrainian member of parliament, in a Telegram message on Sept. 10, which was later confirmed by Russian milbloggers and other Ukrainian sources.


Mysiagin said that Russian fighters had been “retreating to new positions chaotically and almost in a panic.”

He said that other Russian forces had mistaken their troops for Ukrainians attempting to recapture territory near the airport. The hurried exit resulted in the troops coming under fire from their own artillery.

“The result was 27 dead and 34 wounded. Approximately half of the wounded had their arms or legs blown off and several pieces of equipment were lost,” he said.

And in November, video emerged of a Russian soldier casually discussing how poor coordination between units led to Russian artillery firing on their own positions.

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