Troops of the 5th Separate Guards Tank Brigade, part of the Eastern Military District in Russia, have been in Ukraine since February 24.
The latest intelligence update from the Ministry of Defence said the lack of “scheduled breaks” from intense fighting for Russian forces was a major issue facing Vladimir Putin’s army.
It comes amid reports mothers of Russian soldiers are also accusing pro-Kremlin propagandists of revealing their positions.
The mothers said Ukrainian artillery shelling killed at least five soldiers and heavily wounded three others after the Izvestia daily published a field report on Russian tanks firing at Ukrainian positions on June 30.
The MoD said: “In late June, a Russian-language media agency based in Russia’s far eastern Lake Baikal region uploaded a video in which the wives of soldiers from the Eastern Military District’s (EMD’s) 36th Combined Arms Army directly appealed to a local politician for their husbands to be returned home from service in Ukraine.
“One woman claimed that personnel of EMD’s 5th Separate Guards Tank Brigade are ‘mentally and physically’ exhausted,’ because they have been on active combat duty since the launch of the ‘special military operation’ on 24 February 2022.
“The lack of scheduled breaks from intense combat conditions is highly likely one of the most damaging of the many personnel issues the Russian MoD is struggling to rectify amongs the deployed forces.”
The US-based military think tank, the Institute for The Study of War (ISW) said that Russian forces are in the middle of a theatre-wide operational pause in Ukraine.
Defence chiefs in Britain, the US and other allied countries are fighting an information war against Russia, which is a key part of the conflict in Ukraine, so their claims need to be treated in that context.
And the mothers of Russian soldiers also claimed Moscow’s own propagandists are getting soldiers killed.
“This happened as a result of [war correspondents] declassifying the location of military equipment and personnel in the video,” the mothers wrote in a letter shared by BBC Russian journalist Ilya Barabanov.
The mothers’ letter addresses the head of the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers branch in southern Russia’s Astrakhan region, where the unit that came under attack is based. It calls on the NGO to petition Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shogu to ban the work of war correspondents embedded with Russian and pro-Moscow separatist units on the battlefield.
“We demand immediate measures to prohibit the activities of war correspondents in areas of active combat operations,” the mothers wrote.