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Russian soldiers say they were sent into battle with 'blocking' units behind them to stop them from retreating

Soldiers of the 'Storm' unit make a video plea
A screenshot from a video showing Russian soldiers of the Storm unit making a plea to Russian President Vladimir Putin.@wartranslated/Twitter
  • Members of Russia's recently formed "Storm" unit made a video appeal to Vladimir Putin.

  • A soldier said they're sent into combat with other units tasked with stopping them from fleeing.

  • Another soldier said officers demanded bribes and would send people who didn't pay to the front.

Russian soldiers made a dramatic video plea, complaining they were sent into combat with other units specifically tasked with preventing them from running away.

The footage, addressed directly to Vladimir Putin and circulating on Russian Telegram channels, was posted by members of Russia's so-called Storm unit, who said they had suffered huge casualties.

Describing their recent efforts around the village of Vodanye, they said that so-called "blocking" units were sent in behind them to give them no escape from combat.

Alexander Gorin, a soldier, said in the video that the unit suffered huge losses in eastern Ukraine, citing 34 injuries and 22 deaths, including the company commander. Another soldier said there had once been 161 of them.

Gorin said that his soldiers decided to withdraw after their losses, but were denied evacuation. Their commanders responded with the blocking units, he said.

"They placed blocking units behind us and weren't letting us out of our positions," Gorin said, according to a translation by the independent project War Translated.

"They are threatening to destroy us one by one and as a unit," Gorin added, per the video.

A soldier in the video alleged that members of the unit were threatened with being shot if they didn't move forward.

Blocking units, also called barrier troops or anti-retreat forces, are units placed behind main forces to prevent soldiers from fleeing or retreating.

They were used by the Red Army in World War I and World War II, in which Russian forces suffered enormous losses.

Last March, a Ukrainian parliamentarian alleged that Russia was using Chechen troops as blocking units in the invasion of Ukraine, tasking them with shooting deserters. In November the British Ministry of Defence made a similar assessment.

The Guardian identified eight men in the video, confirming that three served in the unit. The newspaper said it verified the accounts they gave in the clip.

These men asked to remain anonymous, saying they have since been evacuated, per the newspaper. The Guardian reported that most of the men in the video are Russian veterans who fought in Ukraine in 2014.

One soldier in the video also alleged that members of the unit were "systematically" being forced to bribe their commanders, with those who refused to pay the "tax" being sent to the front.

He also alleged that injured soldiers were being removed from hospitals without medical assistance, with some being returned to the front line with shrapnel still in their bodies.

The video address to Putin is one of several videos that have emerged during the war in Ukraine of troops pleading to Russia's leader for help.

Read the original article on Insider