Russia news: Putin officer speaks of mass desertions and morale in tatters | World | News

The Russian army has been beset by persistent reports of low morale among the ranks, after suffering massive casualties. According to the Ukrainian military, over 40,000 Russian soldiers have ben killed in action since hostilities broke out on February 24. Countless Russian soldiers are reported to have deserted their units in a desperate bid to flee the slaughter on the front lines.

Describing the hopeless situation faced by his commanders, Major Gruzev recounted how both soldiers and officers refused to fight and fled their positions.

The officer is serving in a military unit from Abkhazia and was taken prisoner near Kherson.

In a video posted by Ukraine’s military, Major Gruzev said: “Nobody wants to be here. Everyone wants to go home.

“All the soldiers from the first and second battalion ran away.

“No one’s left. They refused to fight.”

Abkhazia is a breakaway region in Georgia, which Russia recognised as an independent state after the Georgian war in 2008.

The Major went on to make a plea to Russians to help bring the war to an end.

He said: “I ask Russian citizens to help people like me to return home.

“I ask them to petition Putin to bring back Russian soldiers from Ukraine as quickly as possible.”

Kyiv appears to be stepping up preparations to launch a substantial counteroffensive in the Kherson region.

To recapture the strategic city of Kherson would be a major coup for Ukraine’s commanders.

READ MORE: Putin’s SAS unit suffers HUGE losses in failed bid to destroy HIMARs

Aleksey Gromov, a deputy head of military operations of the Ukraine Armed Forces claimed that units from Chechnya’s National Guard had been sent to the Kherson region.

He said they had been specifically sent to stop Russian soldiers from running away during battle.

Yevgeny Balitsky, the head of the occupation administration in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region, signed a decree on Monday paving the way for a referendum on joining Russia.

He told a rally in Melitoptol: “I am signing the order for the central election committee to start the preparations for holding a referendum on the reunification of the Zaporizhzhia region with the Russian Federation.’

Roughly two-thirds of Zaporizhzhia is under Russian occupation, part of a swathe of southern Ukraine that Moscow captured early in the war.

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