Russia tried to field an elite series of ‘storm’ units but ended up stuffing them with convicts instead, UK intel says – DIGIWIZ CENTRAL

Russia tried to field an elite series of ‘storm’ units but ended up stuffing them with convicts instead, UK intel says

A screenshot from a video shared on June 28 by Russian prisoners’ rights campaign group Gulagu.net. It shows fighters from a Storm-Z squad explaining they will no longer fight in Ukraine, in protest at treatment by their commanders.

REUTERS

Russia tried to create elite “storm” units in Ukraine but they’re largely ineffective, the UK MOD said.
They are full of convicts and are sent to attack with little support, it added.
The UK update said the debacle shows how Russia’ struggles to field effective fighters.

Russia tried to build up its “Storm Z” units as an elite fighting force — but instead pivoted to stuffing them with convicts and other low-quality fighters, according to UK intelligence.

The units instead became a symbol of Russia’s struggle to field any units capable of mounting an effective offense, the assessment said.

The UK Ministry of Defence said in an intelligence update on Tuesday that Russia likely wanted the Storm Z units — sometimes styled as Shtorm-Z — to be “relatively elite organisations which could seize the tactical initiative.”

Instead, it said, they have “effectively become penal battalions, manned with convicts and regular troops on disciplinary charges,” the MOD said.

This tallies with reporting which suggests that soldiers are sent to such battalions as punishment — one man described this happening in an interview with Reuters.

Despite the units’ shortcomings, Russia is still relying on them for local offensive operations in Ukraine, the MOD said.

The use of prisoners in storm units of Russian convicts has previously been reported, including by the Institute for the Study of War, which said in September that the units been sent to a region of heavy fighting, presumably to act as “cover” in case elite units needed to retreat. 

Fighters in the units and people with knowledge of them told Reuters this month that soldiers in storm units are seen as disposable.

A solider in a regular army unit said he was instructed not to treat injured storm unit soldiers. “Storm fighters, they’re just meat,” he told Reuters, adding that his disobeyed the instruction not to help them.

One Storm-Z group of fighters said in a video in June that they would not obey orders to go back to the front line and alleged they were not given food, water, ammunition, or medical care, Reuters reported.  

The UK update said the storm units seemed to be sent to heavy fighting with little help from Russia: “Multiple accounts suggest the units are given the lowest priority for logistical and medical support, while repeatedly being ordered to attack.”

Russia’s struggles with building storm units shows the trouble it has building up an effective infantry, the MOD said, though its troops “often conducted an effective defence.”

The MOD said “the existence of Shtorm-Z highlights the extreme difficulty Russia has in generating combat infantry capable of conducting effective offensive operations.”

Reports and Western intelligence have also pointed to Russia struggling to staff and direct its military since it launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

This includes relying on prisoners to replenish its fighters, and seeing once-elite units being degraded by new members without any significant training.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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