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Nearly five months into Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, a lack of rest among strained Russian forces is likely contributing to their morale issues and stalled advances in some parts of the country, the U.K. Defense Ministry said Monday. 

“The lack of scheduled breaks from intense combat conditions is highly likely one of the most damaging of the many personnel issues the Russian [Ministry of Defense] is struggling to rectify amongst the deployed force,” the UK defense officials said in an intelligence update. 

As fighting has coalesced around the eastern Donbas region in recent weeks, intercepted communications from the front lines have exposed the fatigue that soldiers are facing. 

Destroyed houses are pictured in Vilhivka village near Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Thursday, May 11.
(Reuters/Ricardo Moraes)

The Ukrainian Main Intelligence Directorate published what it said were phone calls of Russian soldiers complaining “about frontline conditions, poor equipment, and overall lack of personnel,” according to the Institute for War Studies, which also noted struggles in Russia to supply an adequate fighting force. 

“Despite growing calls for increased recruitment from nationalist figures, Russian leadership continues to carry out coercive partial mobilization efforts that are only producing limited numbers of replacements while negatively impacting the morale and discipline of forcibly mobilized personnel,” the Institute for War Studies wrote in a recent assessment. 


The UK Defense Ministry also cited a video from Russia’s far eastern Lake Baikal region that purported to show the wives of Russian soldiers appealing to a local politician to bring their husbands home. 

“One woman claimed that personnel of [Eastern Military District’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 UK Defense Ministry said in Monday’s update. 

A fallen rocket that was fired from Kherson but got intercepted by Ukrainian forces remains unexploded in the street in Mykolaiv, Ukraine on April 4.

A fallen rocket that was fired from Kherson but got intercepted by Ukrainian forces remains unexploded in the street in Mykolaiv, Ukraine on April 4.
(Andre Luis Alves/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)


With peace talks appearing to have stalled, the fighting could drag on for “years,” according to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg

“Nobody knows. We must prepare for the fact that it could take years. We must not stop supporting Ukraine. Even if the costs are high, not only for military support but also because of rising energy and food prices,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag on June 19. 

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