Putin attacking civilians is admission of failure says Cleverly
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Putin’s mobilisation decree touched off anger throughout the country, with a string of violent attacks on local draft offices and over 2,000 people arrested for attending anti-mobilisation protests. According to the UK Ministry of Defence, the Russian President is also losing control of its military force, lacking officials to lead new recruits on the battlefield.
In its latest statement, the MoD said: “Eight months into the invasion, major elements of Russia’s military leadership are increasingly dysfunctional. At the tactical level, there is almost certainly a worsening shortage of capable Russian junior officers to organise and lead newly mobilised reservists.
“Eyewitness testimony suggests that the shooting of 11 Russian soldiers near Belgorod by a fellow recruit on 15 October 2022 occurred after an officer’s abusive comments towards ethnic minority recruits.
“Poor lower-level leadership is likely worsening the low morale and poor unit cohesion in many parts of the Russian force.
“Four of the five generals with direct operational command of elements of the invasion in February 2022 have now been dismissed. Their replacements have so far done little to improve Russia’s battlefield performance.
“The lack of command continuity will likely be more disruptive than in a Western military because under Russian doctrine the development of plans sits largely with the commander personally, rather than as a collective effort across a broader staff.”
The Belgorod incident mentioned by the MoD refers to the shooting of 11 people at a military training ground near the Ukrainian border by two gunmen.
Russia’s RIA news agency, citing the defence ministry, said two gunmen opened fire with small arms during a firearms training exercise on Saturday, targeting personnel who had volunteered to fight in Ukraine. RIA said the gunmen, who it referred to as “terrorists,” were shot dead.
The incident in the southwestern Belgorod region was the latest blow to Putin’s “special military operation” in Ukraine. It came a week after a blast damaged a bridge linking mainland Russia to Crimea, the peninsula it annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
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Russia’s defence ministry said the attackers were from a former Soviet republic, without elaborating. A senior Ukrainian official, Oleksiy Arestovych, said the two men were from the mainly Muslim Central Asian republic of Tajikistan and had opened fire on the others after an argument over religion.
“As a result of the incident at a shooting range in Belgorod region, 11 people died from gunshot wounds and another 15 were injured,” Russia’s Investigative Committee said, announcing the criminal investigation. It gave no other details.
Some Russian independent media outlets reported that the number of casualties was higher than the official figures.
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The governor of Belgorod region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said no local residents were among those killed or wounded.
Putin said last week that Russia should be finished calling up reservists in two weeks, promising an end to a divisive mobilisation in which hundreds of thousands of men have been summoned to fight in Ukraine and many have fled the country.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, a strong Putin ally, said last week that his troops would deploy with Russian forces near the Ukrainian border, citing what he said were threats from Ukraine and the West.
The Belarusian defence ministry in Minsk on Sunday said just under 9,000 Russian troops would be stationed in Belarus as part of a “regional grouping” of forces to protect its borders.
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