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‘Morale is flagging’ among desperate Russian soldiers in Ukraine: US official

Some of the Russian soldiers who invaded Ukraine are so unhappy with their mission that they’ve started sabotaging their own vehicles and surrendering in droves, the Pentagon revealed Tuesday.

“Not all of them were apparently fully trained and prepared, or even aware that they were going to be sent into a combat operation,” a senior Defense Department official told reporters during a background briefing.

“We have picked up independently, on our own, indications that morale is flagging in some of these units.”

The acts of vandalism include puncturing vehicle gas tanks, presumably so the soldiers can avoid being transported into combat, the official said.

Entire units of Russian soldiers — many of whom are young draftees with little taste for warfare — have even laid down their weapons and given up rather than fight Ukraine’s highly motivated defenders, the official said.

The Ukrainian Security Service has posted video clips online that purportedly show Russian prisoners of war claiming they thought they were merely taking part in military exercises before they wound up being part of the invasion force.

An armed man stands by a destroyed Russian vehicle in Bucha, Ukraine on March 1, 2022.
AP Photo/Serhii Nuzhnenko

On Monday, Ukraine’s ambassador to the UN also read aloud from what he said were the desperate, final text messages from an unidentified Russian soldier to his mom, moments before he was killed in battle.

“We were told that they would welcome us and they are falling under our armored vehicles, throwing themselves under the wheels and not allowing us to pass,” the doomed soldier purportedly wrote.

Get the latest updates in the Russia-Ukraine conflict with the Post’s live coverage.

“They call us fascists. Mama, this is so hard.”

About 80 percent of the 150,000 troops that Russia massed along Ukraine’s borders have crossed into the former Soviet republic since the invasion began Thursday, the defense official said.

A Ukrainian soldier walks past a railway filled with dead Russian troops after a battle on the outskirts of Irpin, Ukraine on March 1, 2022.
A Ukrainian soldier walks past a railway filled with dead Russian troops after a battle on the outskirts of Irpin, Ukraine on March 1, 2022.

But the Russian Army has covered far less ground than planned and is now being hobbled by shortages of supplies, and the “overarching movement” toward the capital city of Kyiv — which involves a massive, 40-mile military convoy — “is stalled at this point,” the official said.

“In many cases, what we’re seeing are columns that are literally out of gas,” the official said. “Now they’re starting to run out of food for their troops.”

In addition to fierce resistance and the “sustainment and logistics” problems, Russia also has yet to gain control of the skies over Ukraine, the official said.

A man crosses a deserted boulevard during an air raid alarm, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 1, 2022.
A senior Defense Department official claims the Russian military’s advance on the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv has slowed down.
AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda

The unexpected situation has apparently forced Russian commanders into “regrouping and rethinking and trying to adjust to the challenges that they’ve had,” the official said, potentially by conducting a lengthy siege of Kyiv.

With Post wires

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