Storm-Z squads: Drunk, disobedient Russian soldiers sent to Ukraine frontlines
Russia-Ukraine War: One soldier deployed near the eastern city of Bakhmut said that “Storm fighters were seen as meat".
Russia is punishing drunk and unruly soldiers by sending them to the frontlines in Ukraine in Storm-Z human shield squads, a report claimed. The units fight in the most dangerous areas and are sent over the trenches on suicide missions, news agency Reuters reported. The squads are made up of former convicts seeking a pardon. Soldiers said that members of their units had been ordered to join for being drunk on duty, using drugs and disobeying orders.
“If the commandants catch anyone with the smell of alcohol on their breath, then they immediately send them to the Storm squads,” one soldier told Reuters. According to Russian military legislation, a soldier can only be transferred to a penal unit if convicted by a military court but a Storm-Z fighter said that he had no knowledge of court hearings taking place.
One soldier deployed near the eastern city of Bakhmut said that “Storm fighters were seen as meat" and that he had disobeyed an order from his commander to abandon a group of six or seven wounded Storm-Z fighters on the battlefield without giving them medical treatment.
The squads have about 100 to 150 men and are embedded within regular army units. At least five such groups have been tasked in the south and east of Ukraine, the report claimed. The Conflict Intelligence Team, a Russian investigative outlet, said that the squads were useful as they could be deployed as expendable infantry.
One soldier said that 15 of his unit’s 120 men were killed or wounded in fighting near Bakhmut in June. A group of 20 fighters in Zaporizhzhia refused to return to the battlefield in June, claiming that they were badly supplied and neglected.
“On the front line, where we’ve been, we did not get deliveries of ammunition,” a member of the squad said in a video published online, adding, “We did not get water or food. The injured were not taken away: still now the dead are rotting.”