August 22, 2023
Russian soldiers fighting on the front lines in eastern and southern Ukraine face equipment shortages and low morale, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) wrote in its Aug. 21 report.
According to Russian military bloggers, the lack of light transportation vehicles for some units in eastern Ukraine has caused tensions among the ranks. Soldiers cannot operate equipment effectively without proper transportation, and military leadership has resorted to seizing soldiers’ privately-owned vehicles.
“Russian personnel feel that they are ‘at war’ with their commanders,” the ISW said.
Another Russian blogger reported that units in Kherson need boats, but Russian authorities have not provided them.
Bloggers and soldiers alike have complained about artillery shortages. Vostok Battalion Commander Alexander Khodakovsky claimed that Russian front-line units lack adequate counterbattery resources due to artillery shortages and outdated D-20 howitzers.
“Ongoing complaints from Russian personnel suggest that the Russian Defense Ministry is unwilling or unable to address persistent equipment shortages and problems with low morale,” the ISW said.
The ISW also pointed out that despite low morale, there is evidence that Russian forces have learned from past mistakes and are making certain improvements. Artillery units may be more acccurate and better able to strike targets.
According to the ISW, a slow response from Western allies is partly to blame.
“The protraction of the conflict resulting in part from delays in the provision of Western aid to Ukraine gives Russian forces time to improve and to learn from their mistakes,” the ISW said.