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    Amidst Prolonged Conflict: The Escalating Desertion Crisis in Russia’s Military Ranks

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    In an ongoing war that has stretched for more than two years, a significant and growing number of Russian soldiers are deserting their posts amid the conflict with Ukraine, according to recent reports from Ukraine’s military intelligence agency.

    This comes as the war, initiated by President Vladimir Putin, continues to see heavy casualties and intense fighting, particularly in the east of Ukraine.

    Ukraine’s military intelligence agency, known as HUR, highlighted that troops from Russia’s Southern Military District are increasingly deserting.

    The HUR claimed that more than 18,000 Russian servicemen have fled, with around 12,000 belonging to the 8th Combined Arms Army, a unit regularly engaged in hostilities.

    Additionally, about 2,500 troops are reported to have deserted from the Russian 58th Combined Arms Army.

    Desertion has been a persistent issue for the Russian military throughout the conflict.

    In November 2022, the British Defense Ministry even suggested that Kremlin generals may have sanctioned the use of lethal force against deserters.

    The grave consequences of desertion, carrying a potential 10-year prison sentence, do not seem to deter the Russian soldiers from abandoning their posts.

    A Russian anti-war project named “Get Lost”, created to help Russian men evade conscription, has noted a tenfold increase in desertion cases this year.

    A Russian serviceman, identified only as Ivan, gave insight into the desperation and lengths soldiers go to escape the battlefield.

    “Desertion is as hard as it ever was and it all depends on where the soldier is,” he said, acknowledging the risks involved, including criminal consequences.

    Some soldiers take extreme measures, like feigning death or injuring themselves to reach a hospital from where they can flee.

    The UK has also highlighted Russia’s substantial military losses.

    Armed Forces Minister Leo Doherty suggested that approximately 450,000 Russian military personnel have been killed or wounded, with “tens of thousands more” deserting.

    Moscow is also believed to have lost almost 3,000 tanks and a considerable number of aircraft, vehicles, and naval vessels.

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