Despite Moscow claiming that the war is going well, there are more signs that average Russian soldiers, soon to be shipped to Ukraine, are dissatisfied with how the army has prepared for their arrival and are actively resisting orders to mobilize. 

The mass shooting in Belgorod, Russia, committed by Tajik soldiers drafted into to the Russian army, corresponds to a noted increase of dissent and dissatisfaction within the Russian military.

A video, titled “A riot is brewing among mobilized soldiers! Belgorod Oblast,” has appeared on Russian social media. The video is narrated as a selfie by a soldier, addressing the Russian Government directly. With colorfully obscene language, the narrator says that he and his fellow mobilized soldiers have been living outdoors for six days and that the government doesn’t give them tents.

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Weather forecasts indicate that Belgorod, the nearest large Russian city to the Ukrainian border, has had daytime temperatures of about 15 Celsius (59F) and nighttime lows of 4 Celsius (4F), and the men in the video appear to be dressed in warm weather military-issued clothing. However, weather in Ukraine typically stays below freezing, both day and night, for a few months of the year.

The soldier indicates that his unit, of roughly 400 men, have a number of military technologies but are unwilling to move towards Ukraine as “we are protesting and we will not  go anywhere.”

Russian soldiers who have been captured or who have surrendered in Ukraine have indicated that there have been ongoing shortages of food, clothing, weapons, and other staples of the military. In recent weeks, an entire group of Russian soldiers were said to have surrendered in exchange for sandwiches given to them by the Ukrainian military.

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Russian soldiers deployed from Siberia were given packets that included only a candy bar, a first aid kit that was made to be kept in cars, and a box of women’s sanitary napkins (to be used to stop blood loss in case of injury).

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The Belgorod video then cuts to a man, who is later identified as “an extremely popular video blogger,” addressing what appears to be more than a hundred men. The soldier says that, “From the very first day when we got here, we have lived on the street.” The other soldiers appear agitated and voice other complaints and how long they have been waiting.

The videoblogger-turned-mobilized-soldier, continues, “90% of the men here are sick.”

The video ends with the men cheering and showing their firearms, which appear to be Soviet vintage rifles with wooden butts.

Russia has faced ongoing problems with troop morale – a factor that has contributed to the overall collapse of Russia’s ability to defend its illegally occupied territories. Some have called the ongoing collapse of the Russian defense “a rout,” which is defined as “a panicked, disorderly and undisciplined retreat of troops from a battlefield, following a collapse in a given unit’s command authority, unit cohesion and combat morale.”

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