A Russian soldier fighting near Bakhmut said his regiment is being sent to face Ukrainian cluster munitions with little more than “shovels,” according to independent Russian media.
The soldier, identified by the pseudonym Denis Ivanov, spoke by telephone on Sunday from near Andriivka, a village to the south of Bakhmut, where Russia’s 94th regiment was fighting, Svoboda reported.
Ivanov’s wife — identified pseudonymously as Vera — said he had earlier told her that they had “practically no weapons,” adding that they were attacking with shovels and barely any artillery support, the outlet reported.
Insider has not independently verified their identities or claims.
As of Wednesday, however, the US think tank the Institute for the Study of War assessed that Ukraine had retaken Andriivka as well as Klischiivka, a town about a mile closer to Bakhmut.
In the context of the broader counteroffensive, it’s a tiny but notable breakthrough in what appears to be a Ukrainian tactic of straining thinly spread Russian forces across many spots on the front line, the Associated Press reported.
According to Svoboda’s report, the fight at Andriivka has been a desperate one for Russian soldiers. The soldier identified as Ivanov told the outlet that his regiment had lost about 600 out of 1,000 fighters, a number far higher than official reports.
When troops are sent in, there is barely any supporting fire from artillery because they have hardly any rounds, Ivanov told Svoboda.
Vera, the wife, suggested that Russian troops had been ordered to fire on their compatriots if they retreated. Ukrainian forces echoed this claim on Saturday.
Ivanov complained that his commander would not admit that the village was in Ukrainian hands, sending them to fight when it was plainly futile, the outlet reported.
Vera told the outlet that she was speaking out in order to get the word out to Russian high command about his refusal to accept the loss of the village, so that the doomed attacks could come to a halt.