August 15, 2022

Institute for the Study of War: Luhansk militia members said to shirk combat in Donetsk

Institute for the Study of War

Elements of the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) militia reportedly refused to continue fighting in Donetsk Oblast and complained about the grueling pace of offensives outside of Luhansk Oblast. The emotional significance of recent Russian targets in Donetsk Oblast resonates with audiences in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR), but not with LNR audiences tired of grueling offensives beyond their claimed borders. Several Ukrainian channels shared a video on August 15 of soldiers from LNR Battalion 2740 refusing to fight for the DNR.[1] The soldiers claim that they celebrated victory on July 3, when LNR forces reached the borders of Luhansk Oblast, and that their work is done. At least one Russian milblogger has criticized the LNR servicemembers for desiring Russian support for their own ”liberation” and then refusing to fight in Donetsk Oblast.[2] ISW cannot independently verify the origin or authenticity of this particular video. Its message reflects a larger trend of diminished LNR investment in and morale to support the Russian war in Ukraine, however. This trend is particularly dangerous to Russian forces seeking to recruit still more new soldiers from Luhansk Oblast to make up for recent losses. Further division within Russian-led forces also threatens to further impede the efficiency of the Russian war effort.

DNR units have previously recorded similar appeals when operating in Luhansk, Kharkiv, and Kherson Oblasts, which may indicate that proxy troops might not fully support the Kremlin’s expansive invasion plans. ISW has previously reported that servicemen of the 3rd Infantry Battalion of the DNR’s 105th Infantry Regiment complained when the unit was redeployed from Mariupol to Luhansk Oblast in late May.[3] The 113th Regiment of the DNR also published a similar appeal from the Kherson Oblast frontlines in early June.[4] Another serviceman of an unspecified DNR battalion complained that Russian border guards held the unit at the Belgorod Oblast border after the unit fought around Kharkiv City in mid-May to allow Russian units to withdraw first.[5] DNR-based war correspondents have been boasting about the DNR progress around Avdiivka, but such attitudes may sour again if the DNR units are recommitted to another axis.

Russia’s annual Technical Forum and Army Games which began in Moscow on August 13 do not represent any immediate military threat to Ukraine. The forum and army games are not military exercises. The forum is the Kremlin’s premier annual military-industrial complex exposition and generates reliable arms sale revenue, which the Kremlin uses to supplement income lost due to sanctions.[6] The Army Games are a complementary series of competitive military sporting events that the Kremlin uses to demonstrate Russian weapons systems in the field and develop relationships with foreign militaries. This year’s Army Technical Forum will be held from August 15 to August 21 and the Army Games will run from August 13 to August 27.[7]

Key Takeaways

  • A reported video of LNR servicemen refusing to fight in Donetsk Oblast suggests further division among Russian-led forces.
  • Russian forces attempted several limited ground assaults northwest of Slovyansk.
  • Russian forces conducted multiple offensive operations east and southeast of Siversk and northeast and southeast of Bakhmut.
  • Russian forces continued conducting offensive operations northwest, west, and southwest of Donetsk City.
  • Russian forces conducted a limited ground assault north of Kharkiv City.
  • Russian and Ukrainian forces continued to trade accusations of shelling the Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant.
  • St. Petersburg authorities officially denied summoning local men to military recruitment and enlistment centers for discussions of contract service.
  • Russian occupation authorities continued preparations for the integration of occupied territories of Ukraine into Russia.

For full report:  https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-august-15

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