115 Soldiers From Russia's National Guard Have Been Dismissed For Refusing To Fight In Ukraine

Court documents show that more than 100 Russian national guard soldiers have been fired for refusing to take part in the war in Ukraine, in what appears to show a clear indication of dissent among some of the country's military over the invasion of Ukraine.

Russian soldiers refuse to fight in Ukraine
A Russian court has dismissed the case of 115 soldiers being illegally dismissed for refusing to fight in Ukraine

On Wednesday, a Russian court rejected the collective lawsuit of 115 national guardsmen, a force also-known as Rosgvardia, that challenged their dismissal from the military for refusing to fight in Ukraine.

According to the court's decision that was published on its website, the lawsuit was rejected after the judge determined that the soldiers had rightfully been fired from service for "refusing to perform an official assignment" to fight in Ukraine, and instead they returned to a duty station.

The case took place in Nalchik, the capital of the Kabardino-Balkarian republic in the Russian Caucasus, the same area where the unit is based.

Since the start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, there have been reports of poor morale among many of the troops, many soldiers even claiming they had no idea that they were being sent to war when they crossed the border into Ukraine.

Earlier this month, the Pentagon said it had seen "anecdotal reports" that "mid-grade officers at various levels, even up to the battalion level had refused to obey orders".

The lawyer who represented the 115 soldiers, Andrei Sabinin, said that the decision of the court was "unprecedentedly quick" given the complexity of the case.

Mr Sabinin said: "I express doubts about the fairness of the process as a whole because my clients were denied to call up certain witnesses and several documents were rejected by the court."

Mr Sabinin claims that the commanders of the Rosgvardia unit gave the 115 soldiers the option to not partake in the invasion and that their dismissal was illegal.

Rosgvardia, a separate military force from the army, was created in 2016, with its primary objective of maintaining public order and fighting terrorism. Since the start of Rosgvardia, often referred to as "Putin's private army", the unit has frequently been involved in stopping anti-government protests in the country.

The chief editor of Novy Fokus, Mikhail Afanasyev, was arrested by Russian security forces last month after the website reported on a separate Rosgvardia unit that also refused to fight in Ukraine.

Testimonies given by members of the Rosgvardia unit that Afanasyev reported on confirmed earlier reports that a further 11 soldiers from Khakassia had refused to fight.

The testimonies also showed evidence that the initial intention of Moscow was to attack and capture Kyiv.

A Rosgvardia soldier told the court in one testimony that his commander instructed his unit three days before the invasion that they would be sent to Ukraine to "patrol the streets and intersections of Kyiv".

In the testimony that was seen by the Guardian, "The commander explained that all employees of the national guard and the Russian armed forces were assigned specific tasks during the special operation in Ukraine. The task of our detachment and for all the other detachments that were stationed with us was to guard the streets and intersections of Kyiv."

Regional independent news outlet Tayga.info was the first to report the content of the court documents.

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