Russian troops in Ukraine facing ‘morale and discipline’ issues due to problems with pay, UK says

Russian forces in Ukraine are suffering from “morale and discipline issues” that are at least partly due to problems with their compensation, the UK Ministry of Defense said. 

The Russian side has taken heavy losses more than six months into their invasion, prompting Putin last month to order an increase in the number of military forces by 137,000 to about 1.15 million. 

Members of the Russian military receive a modest base salary with a “complex variety of bonuses and allowances,” the UK Ministry of Defense said, but there have likely been problems with the payouts of those combat bonuses so far. 

“This is probably due to inefficient military bureaucracy, the unusual legal status of the ‘special military operation’, and at least some outright corruption [among] commanders,” the UK Ministry of Defense said. 

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It’s not the first time that Western military officials have noted discipline problems in the Russian ranks. A senior US defense official told reporters on a background call in May that “morale and unit cohesion remains a problem.” 

“Soldiers not obeying orders, or not fighting as well or as aggressively as they are being told to or expected to – even to the point where some officers are refusing to obey orders,” the official said at the time. 

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Russia has lost between 60,000 and 80,000 troops so far in Ukraine, US officials believe. Efforts are underway to replenish their forces. 

“They’ve done this in part by eliminating the upper age limits for new recruits and also by recruiting prisoners,” a senior US defense official said last month. “Many of these new recruits have been observed as older, unfit, and ill-trained.” 

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