Skip to content
Edit post

ISW: Russia formally integrates proxy militias from eastern Ukraine into Russian military

by The Kyiv Independent news desk February 21, 2023 8:53 AM 2 min read
This audio is created with AI assistance

Support independent journalism in Ukraine. Join us in this fight.

Become a member Support us just once

The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed the formal integration of the Russian-backed proxy militias from Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts into the Russian military, denying reported command changes within the proxy units, the Institute for the Study of War reported in its latest update.

In response to widespread military blogger and proxy criticisms about the reported dismissal of Donetsk Oblast proxy militia spokesman Eduard Basurin on Feb. 17, the Russian Defense Ministry denied reports about the alleged dismissal of officers in the integrated proxy units, the ISW reported.

The integration may be part of Russia's efforts to professionalize its military amid shortcomings in unit cohesion and a year of failures and setbacks on the battlefield. However, integrating proxy militias into the Russian military will likely cause tensions, as the proxy servicemen have not been trained as professional soldiers, the ISW said.

Proxy servicemen have also repeatedly complained about unequal treatment from the Kremlin. Russian mobilized servicemen have also recently accused the militia formations of abuse and discrimination, according to the update.

EXCLUSIVE: Escaping forced conscription in Russian-occupied Donetsk

The decision to reorganize the Russian-backed militias, self-proclaimed as the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics’ (DNR/LNR) militias, amid an ongoing Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine, is also likely a sign the Russian Defense Ministry "does not fully grasp the scale of the underlying challenges of integrating irregular forces into the professional military, especially during a period of intense combat operations," the ISW wrote.

The militias are currently fighting alongside Russian regular forces and private mercenary groups in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region to help Russia’s goal of reaching the administrative borders of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, which were partly occupied in 2014 and then further in 2022.

"Such untimely restructuring of the command structure may reduce cohesion within the proxy units and between them and Russian forces," the ISW said.

According to the ISW, Basurin discussed his dismissal in a publicized meeting with Kremlin-controlled private mercenary Wagner Group boss Yevgeny Prigozhin on Feb. 19. He said that such command changes would demoralize proxy servicemen if their commanders were replaced by people they did not know.

Basurin also said that proxy soldiers could even refuse to fight as a result of Russia's professionalization efforts and command changes, the ISW reported.

One year later: How Russia came to fail in Ukraine, battle after battle

News Feed

10:47 PM

Kremlin spokesman threatens Europe over decision to host US missiles.

"Our country is in the crosshairs of American missiles located in Europe. We've been through all this before," he said in an interview with Russian TV propagandist Pavel Zarubin. "We have enough potential to deter these missiles. But the capitals of these states are potential victims."
9:18 PM

Chief emergency worker among two killed in Kharkiv Oblast.

Half an hour after emergency workers arrived at the scene, Russian troops launched a second attack on the same location, Artem Kostyria, head of the State Emergency Situations Service's branch in Kharkiv Oblast, and police sergeant Oleksiy Koshchii.
Ukraine Daily
News from Ukraine in your inbox
Ukraine news
Please, enter correct email address
5:24 PM

Russian kamikaze drone flies deep inside Belarus, whereabouts unknown.

The Belarusian Hajun monitoring group reported it had flown 250 kilometers "over Gomel and Zhlobyn, entered the Mogilev region, and then the Minsk region." It also said a Belarusian Mi-24 helicopter and Su-30 fighter jet were scrambled to intercept the drone before it "presumably flew to Vitebsk."
3:37 PM

US developing new 'extended-range' missile for Ukraine's Air Force.

The new weapon to be developed is an Extended-Range Attack Munition (ERAM), that aims to be a low-cost, quick to produce air-launched missile with a range of around 460 kilometers. The manufacture of the weapon is intended to begin no later than two years after the awarding of the contract and up to 1,000 are to be produced each year.
3:19 PM

Children's theater goes underground in Kharkiv

In the heart of Kharkiv, Kharkiv Theater for Children and Youth performs in bomb shelters under constant threats of Russian attacks. The Kyiv Independent visited one of the theater's performances in late June to meet the dedicated actors and their no less dedicated audience.
10:46 AM

Poland considers downing Russian missiles over Ukraine, FM says.

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said the problem for Warsaw is that once downed, the debris could pose a threat to Poles and the country's property. "At this stage, this is an idea. What our agreement said is we will explore this idea," he added.
1:56 AM  (Updated: )

Trump shot at during Pennsylvania rally.

At a rally in Pennsylvania, gunshots were reportedly fired at former U.S. President Donald Trump, prompting security staff to rush him off stage.

Editors' Picks

Enter your email to subscribe
Please, enter correct email address
* indicates required
* indicates required
* indicates required
* indicates required
* indicates required


* indicates required
* indicates required


* indicates required
* indicates required


* indicates required
Successfuly subscribed
Thank you for signing up for this newsletter. We’ve sent you a confirmation email.