(FiveNation.com)- Divisions from the Russian guard are searching for over 200 Russian soldiers who deserted their posts “en masse” in Russian-occupied territory, according to Ukrainian Intelligence.
The soldiers, both Russian servicemen and mercenaries, deserted their posts in the Russian-occupied region of Zoporhizhzhia and are now being hunted by separate divisions of the Russian guard, according to an intelligence update from the General Staff of the Armed Forces (UAF) of Ukraine.
The update, posted on Facebook, claims that troops and mercenaries are leaving “en masse” and Rosgvardia units were sent to Prymorsk “to conduct search operations.” The UAF estimates the number of deserters is more than 200.
Since the start of the conflict in February 2022, there have been multiple reports of Russian soldiers refusing to participate in the war or deserting.
Last week, a Russian court sentenced Alexey Breusov to 20 months in prison for refusing to participate in combat operations and refusing to follow an officer’s order to be deployed to Ukraine.
In mid-December, it was reported that a Russian soldier who refused to fight in Ukraine had been beaten and locked up by his comrades. After the soldier had written a letter to leadership expressing his refusal to fight in the war, he was placed in the custody of other Russian soldiers who tried to force him to fight through torture.
On December 5, the Russian military executed 21 soldiers who deserted. At least 13 of those had been recruited from Russian penal colonies.
Under the decree signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in September, Russian soldiers who voluntarily surrender to Ukrainian forces, desert their posts, or refuse to participate in the “special military operation” could face up to 10 years in prison.
Since the start of the invasion, Russia has lost an estimated 103,770 military personnel, 3,017 tanks, 6,037 armored combat vehicles, 1,999 artillery systems, and 4,660 vehicles and fuel tanks, according to estimates from Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense.