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ISW: Pro-war bloggers see Ukrainian gains as proof of flagging Russian morale

by Abbey Fenbert August 14, 2023 5:40 AM 2 min read
Infantry training of Ukrainian soldiers in Donetsk Oblast, Aug. 11, 2023. (Photo by Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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Pro-war Russian bloggers are complaining of poor Russian morale and personnel failures after Ukrainian troops made gains in Urozhaine, Donetsk Oblast, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) wrote in its Aug. 13 report.

Criticisms of Russian brigades in Donetsk arose after Ukrainian forces advanced in the area of Urozhaine on Aug. 10. One author claimed that Russian soldiers "prematurely withdrew" because "the unit's personnel were drunk," the ISW reported.

While some objected to this characterization, other voices in the Russian information space echoed and expanded these complaints, according to the ISW.

One author attributed Russian defensive failures on the front to the dismissal of a unit commander, Major General Ivan Popov.

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The bloggers "targeted their complaints at the personnel of these units rather than the unit or theater commanders, suggesting that Popov’s removal and other rumored command purges may have removed mid-level Russian military commanders as a readily available scapegoat for Russian military failures," the ISW wrote.

The ISW also said that Russian commander Alexander Khodakovsky, who leads a battalion near Urozhaine, acknowledged on Aug. 13 that "Russia expended its resources too early in the war."

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