Friday, April 19, 2024

Russian Courts Last Month Convicted Record Number of Deserters from Putin’s Army in Ukraine

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Apr. 13 –Novaya Gazeta reported in February that ten times as many Russian soldiers are desertion now compared to a year ago (; and now Mediazona says Russian courts handed down a record 34 verdicts in such cases every working day in March (

            Mediazona investigators document that these cases are being held throughout the country including in regions where many observers assume patriotism is high and where many men had joined up earlier to escape poverty and enjoy high pay, yet another indication that support for Putin’s war in Ukraine is slipping on the front lines putting unit cohesion at risk.

            The investigative journalists point out that modifications in Russian law allow the courts to send back into the military those convicted of trying to escape, an arrangement that may allow the military to keep its manpower levels high at least in the formal sense but will do little to lessen anger both there and in the population.

            Many of those who have gone AWOL or deserted (the two crimes are separate but counted together in the Mediazona enumeration) have not yet been apprehended or have fled the country, often to Kazakhstan where crossing the border is easiest. However, many now in that Central Asian country are seeking to move on further from the Russian Federation.


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