‘Like lambs to the slaughter’: Russian soldier describes ordeal of being on field in gut-wrenching letter

A letter allegedly written by a Russian soldier and obtained by CNN describes the agony of being on the battlefield, fighting the Ukrainians. The soldier who wrote the letter in “incredibly precise and neat handwriting”, describes how Ukrainian soldiers are decimating them and that they have been sent to the field like “lambs to the slaughter”. 

The letter was first obtained by an independent Russian journalist and later reached CNN. It describes the ordeal of a Russian soldier on the field. The soldier who supposedly wrote the letter says that they haven’t been given any mortar when they were promised they would be.

“The enemy is spitting us out like sunflower seeds… Everywhere around us, they deceive us. There is no truth anywhere. We’ve been sent like lambs to the slaughter…to our imminent death,” the letter reads.

“We saw corpses and mutilated people without arms and legs, with their guts hanging out. We were promised that we would be mortar men, but we were given [no mortars].”

Notably, in September last year, Russia declared a partial mobilisation of military reservists. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that Moscow plans to mobilise 300,000 recruits. The decision led to a massive hue & cry, with several people choosing to leave the country. 

The mobilisation was declared complete on October 28. But since Russian President Vladimir Putin is yet to sign a decree to that effect, experts say covert mobilisation likely still continues. 

A report by the UK defence ministry earlier this month said that reservists were using “shovels” for “hand-to-hand” combat in Ukraine owing to a shortage of ammunition. An intelligence update by the ministry said that the soldiers were ordered to assault a Ukrainian position “armed with only firearms and shovels”.

The shovel in question is known as MPL-50 and was designed in 1869. The ministry said the shovel had changed little since then. 

“The lethality of the standard-issue MPL-50 entrenching tool is particularly mythologised in Russia,” the ministry said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his Monday night address that Ukraine’s future hinges on the outcome of battles in the east, including in and around Bakhmut. He said both sides were engaged in brutal fighting in the small city as Russia intensifies a winter campaign to capture it.

“It is very tough in the east – very painful,” Zelensky said in a Monday video address.

“We have to destroy the enemy’s military power. And we shall destroy it,” he added.

Meanwhile, the International Criminal Court (ICC) is expected to seek the arrest of Russian officials in the first international war crimes cases arising from the Ukraine invasion. The case pertains to forcibly deporting children from Ukraine and targeting civilian infrastructure, Reuters reported.

While Russia will definitely reject arrest warrants against its officials, an international war crimes prosecution could have a massive impact on the country diplomatically. 

(With inputs from agencies)

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