An unexpected glimpse of disillusionment in the Russian trenches

NOVOPETRIVKA, UKRAINE — There is no job more enviable than the recent deployment of Russian mobilizations to Ukraine.

Since Vladimir Putin announced partial military mobilization on September 21, dozens of videos have emerged showing the harrowing conditions in which those recruited for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are forced into military service.the conscript sleep under the sky,Given the little food When defective weaponand its officers, Drinking rather than providing any training before they were sent forward.

But others further down the socio-economic hierarchy were forced into service.The men of Donetsk and the Luhansk People’s Republic are Russia’s puppet states in eastern Ukraine, and this summer the male population fell en masse. Interviews with local residents and documents recently recovered by the Military Times from an abandoned Russian outpost in Novopetryvka, a former front-line village in southern Ukraine’s Mykolaiv Oblast, have made their daily presence known. It gives you a glimpse.

Novopetrivka, located 40 kilometers north of the city of Kherson, remained in the heart of the Russian defensive line on the right bank of the Dnipro for more than six months. After Russian forces captured Kherson at the start of his early March campaign, the advance to the city of Mykolaiv was repulsed by the Ukrainian garrison. They soon settled in Novopetrivka.

The Military Times visited the village on November 12, just two days after its liberation by Ukrainian forces. The signs of the occupation were fresh, notably a series of Z’s, symbols of the Russian campaign, spray-painted on tractors and other vehicles.

“[The Russians] I came on February 27th or 28th,” said 50-year-old villager Viktor. “The columns that attacked Mykolaev were passing through the village day and night. But then our men defeated them there. [at Mykolaiv], and they settled back here. Tanks were destroyed over there, my house was shelled, but there was a fierce battle. [Ukrainian forces] I couldn’t push them out,” he says.

In these early days, the Russians were interested in trying to persuade the local population. Viktor and others from Novoperivka describe good treatment and genuine friendliness in the immediate aftermath of the occupation. However, the mood soon changed.

“[The Russians] It turned out that we were not interested in their propaganda,” Victor said. “They started to lose their temper, especially since they couldn’t beat [Ukrainian forces] on the battlefield. By the summer they were torturing people regularly and most of them had disappeared,” he said.

There was also resentment between various branches of the Russian and pro-Russian forces stationed in Novopetrivka, and the marked difference in living conditions led to tensions.

“Russian [and Donetsk/Luhansk troops] We were living in trenches and fighting real battles,” Viktor says. “But in the villages themselves, the Chechens and Buryats stayed in people’s houses and did not fight at all. People and Russians were happy to intimidate, Russians did not like them at all, ”he says.

The trenches themselves are located in a broad series of positions, arranged in two rows, starting on the northern outskirts of Novopetrivka. A standard assortment of basic supplies is scattered around the trench. Discarded food cans, dirty clothes, packets of questionable quality drugs. But he has one item that offers a more insightful view of the living conditions there. It is a soldier’s half-full notebook left in one of his sleeping bunkers.

Much of the content in the notebook is mundane. Many pages list food distribution and patrol schedules. But it does contain a full description of the size and placement of the units there. The opening line, “2nd Rifle Company, 57 men” makes it clear that this was an infantry unit with no armored vehicles. The next line shows that there are 16 of him per subunit, of which 27 of him are currently resting after duty and doing maintenance work such as cleaning and repairs. There is also a grenade launcher platoon, 5 of which are currently in combat posts, and the remaining 9 of him doing chores.

Other pages of the notebook provide further clues about the unit located here.One bundle lists a series of phone numbers for other men in the unit.They all start with the Russian international phone number +7, but what’s more interesting is their respective area code: 990. A quick search reveals that this area code is issued Launched by two Russian telecommunications companies from May 2022 for the occupied Kherson and Zaporizhye regions. The fact that these soldiers were forced to use their personal mobile phones for military communications and to write down the numbers of their comrades on paper was another reason for the lack of basic equipment these soldiers possessed. One accusation.

Finally, the most interesting page by far captures the mood of the soldier who owned it. There are vulgar poems scribbled in Russian. [back home], ”Those who did not come to the war. “Fuck you, you fought hard,” the author repeats several times, also saying, “I didn’t get the bucket of unearned medals.” The text itself contains numerous spelling and grammatical errors, of the kind that Russian-speaking Ukrainians can make, and that the author is from the occupied Luhansk or Donetsk provinces in eastern Ukraine. is strongly suggested. It is clear that he was not particularly happy with his situation, and he loved little those who enriched themselves in peaceful Moscow.

Ultimately, the sacrifices of the author and his companions were in vain. Viktor, a local, says the withdrawal came as a surprise not only to Novopetryvka residents, but also to Russian military personnel.

“They were shocked,” Viktor said when asked how the Russian and LNR/DNR forces in the village reacted to the withdrawal. “They were telling us, ‘Russia will be here forever,’ and suddenly they were against it,” he said. “But they really didn’t know what they were doing here in the first place. We’re fighting for our land. They’re just dying as Putin’s slaves.”