Russian forces have not made any significant progress in Moscow’s new offensive in eastern Ukraine, a situation partly due to poor morale and some troops “refusing to obey orders,” a senior U.S. defense official said Monday.
“We still see anecdotal reports of poor morale of troops, indeed officers, refusing to obey orders and move and not really sound command and control from a leadership perspective,” the official told reporters.
The official later said “midgrade officers at various levels, even up to the battalion level” either have refused to obey orders “or are not obeying them with the same measure of alacrity that you would expect an officer to obey.”
Russian forces have struggled to make major gains in the Donbas region of Ukraine since beginning a new offensive in the area last month.
On top of dealing with morale issues that have lingered since the start of the war on Feb. 24, the Kremlin also is struggling to resupply its troops and move its weapons and equipment in muddy spring weather, the official said.
Still, Moscow continues to send operational battalion tactical groups (BTGs) into Ukraine, with 97 such groups in the country, up from 92 late last month, according to the official. Each BTG typically consists of about 700 to 800 soldiers.
“It’s not unusual for them to move a BTG or two out of the Donbas back into Russia for refit or resupply and then move them back in. That’s normal,” the official said.
However, Russia has added about five BTGs to Ukraine in a little more than a week, all sent to either the east or the south of Ukraine, they added.