Russian soldiers talk snipers from Moscow threatening to shoot deserters

A group of Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine recorded a video on Thursday in which they discuss “blocking units” of snipers sent by Moscow to prevent troops from fleeing the battlefield.

The clip was shared to X, formerly Twitter, on Friday by WarTranslated, an independent media project that translates materials about the Russia-Ukraine war into English. Newsweek could not independently verify the video and contacted Russia’s Ministry of Defense via email for comment.

“After yesterday’s attack, during the withdrawal, those who were wounded or afraid, they called us ‘f****** refuseniks’ and ‘meat,'” one of the soldiers said in the video.

He continued: “They don’t consider us humans. They’ve put up blocking units. Snipers, who act against us.”

A member of Russia’s military trains in the southern Russian Rostov region on October 1, 2023. In a recent video posted online, a group of Russian soldiers in Ukraine say snipers were sent from Moscow…

Photo by STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images

Throughout the course of the war launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin in February 2022, multiple reports have emerged about Moscow using so-called “blocking units,” also known as “barrier troops.” These units are reportedly used in Ukraine to shoot Russian soldiers who attempt to surrender or escape from battle.

In November 2022, the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense (MOD) documented the presence of Russian blocking units in Ukraine.

“Due to low morale and reluctance to fight, Russian forces have probably started deploying ‘barrier troops’ or ‘blocking units,'” the MOD wrote at the time. “These units threaten to shoot their own retreating soldiers in order to compel offensives and have been used in previous conflicts by Russian forces.”

According to WarTranslated, the troops in the new video are members of an air assault brigade in Novomikhailovka, a village in the Donetsk region.

“We want to start a mass appeal to all departments for this to finally stop. Three assault groups were sent yesterday. Only three people made it with no support provided,” the speaker in the video said, per WarTranslated’s English captions.

“No evacuation provided for the wounded. Some were getting back any way they could,” the soldier added. “Those who returned are sent back with knives … no guns.”

The Russian soldier then expressed his company’s discontent with their commanders, saying the officers treat them “like meat, literally.”

He said that they are willing to fight, but they are “demanding that this leadership be dispersed.”

WarTranslated frequently posts videos of Russian soldiers airing their grievances with Putin or Russia’s military leaders. Earlier this month, WarTranslated’s X account shared a video of a group of wounded Russian soldiers complaining that they had been “dumped off” at a field hospital in Ukraine without necessary medication.

The media project also published a video earlier in November on X that allegedly showed naked Russian soldiers being forced to stay in a pit because they refused to fight. Similarly, WarTranslated posted a video in late June of a Storm-Z company from Russia’s military saying they would not return to what they called the “meat grinder” of the front lines.