Shock WaPo article: Ukrainian morale is collapsing in the Donbas

Untrained civilian volunteers are being sent to prison for retreating

Numerous videos have been published by groups of Ukrainian soldiers complaining about conditions. WaPo says a government official confirmed the authenticity of videos attributed to the 1st and 3rd Battalions of the 115th Brigade in Severodonetsk. Kiev has arrested dozens of members of the 115th for “desertion.”

Kiev is prosecuting soldiers, many of which are civilian volunteers, who have defied orders not to retreat or made videos complaining about conditions. Russia also alleges that they have found Ukrainian soldiers executed by their own side in Mariupol and Liman.

Last Monday, WaPo interviewed Lapko and Khrus, commanders of the 5th Separate Rifle Battalion of an unnamed Brigade. The unit had just retreated from the frontline village of Toshkivka to an undisclosed hotel. They have been fighting inside the Russian “cauldron” in Lugansk Oblast. However, they are untrained civilian volunteers who never expected to be transported to the most intense fighting in the country. 

Lapko and Khrus told WaPo that their unit had declined from 120 to 54 people. Roughly 20 were killed, 22 wounded, and 24 were imprisoned by Kiev for “desertion.” Lapko states, “When we were coming here, we were told that we were going to be in the third line on defense. Instead, we came to the zero line, the front line. We didn’t know where we were going.”

WaPo says they lack training, equipment, food, and competent commanders. Lapko’s unit was original in Lysyschansk and then ordered to the front line in the village of Toshkivka. He says that the only weapons they had were Kalashnikovs and anti-tank rockets that no one even knew how to use. They were quickly cut off from Lysychansk with no water or food and not even a radio to contact their superiors or call for artillery support.

By Wednesday, Lapko and Khrus had been stripped of their command and imprisoned inside of Lysychansk. The rest of their men had already been sent back to the front, and two more had been wounded. 

Dozens of members of the 115th are said to have been arrested by Kiev:

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