Russia’s first mobilization since World War II may be complete, but the deployment of thousands of soldiers to the battlefields of Ukraine is generating dissent and protest on the front lines — and back home.
With the Russian government touting that at least 50,000 of the recently drafted are now in Ukraine, a long list of complaints is emerging: Lack of leadership from mid-ranking officers, tactics that lead to heavy casualties, non-existent training, promised payments not received.
There are also logistical difficulties, as reported by soldiers, their families and Russian military bloggers: Insufficient uniforms, poor food, a lack of medical supplies.
And there are discipline issues, with some families complaining their men face charges of desertion and are being held in basements in occupied Ukrainian territory.
The Astra Telegram channel — a project of independent Russian journalists — reported that 300 mobilized Russians are being held in a basement in Zaitsevo in the Luhansk region for refusing to return to the front line, quoting their relatives.
One woman said her husband had told her: “New people are constantly brought in. They are in a large basement in the House of Culture in Zaitsevo. They feed them once a day: one dry ration to share between 5-6 people. They constantly threaten them.”
Astra reported it had the names of 42 people of those detained. It also cited relatives in identifying seven basements or detention facilities in Luhansk and Donetsk for soldiers.
It quoted the wife of one detained soldier as saying: “My husband and 80 other people are sitting in the basement; they were stripped naked in order to confiscate their phones, but one person, fortunately, hid the phone.”
Astra said the men were arrested after retreating from the town of Lyman and then refusing to return to the line of fire.
CNN is unable to verify the existence or location of detention centers for men refusing to fight.
Read more here.