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6 Dec, 2023 19:30

Some conscripted Ukrainian ‘marines’ can’t swim – BBC

Inexperienced men are being thrown into a maelstrom of Russian fire near Kherson, a soldier told the British state broadcaster
Some conscripted Ukrainian ‘marines’ can’t swim – BBC

Young and untrained Ukrainian conscripts are being rushed to a deadly stretch of the frontline near Kherson, only to be pummeled by Russian drones and gunfire, an anonymous soldier told the BBC. He also claimed that Ukraine's real losses at this flashpoint were being covered up by President Vladimir Zelensky.

Little more than a hamlet, the village of Krinki sits on the eastern bank of the Dnieper River, just under 40km northeast of Kherson. For the past several weeks, Ukrainian forces assembled on the western bank have been attempting to cross the river and set up a bridgehead from which to launch further attacks into the Russian rear.

The Ukrainian military claimed last week that its forces had crossed the river and were inflicting “fire damage on the enemy's rear.” Zelensky said that while he would like additional Western weapons, he was “satisfied” with the progress of his troops.

In an article published on Monday, an anonymous Ukrainian soldier fighting near Krinki told the BBC that “the real situation is being hushed up.”

“The entire river crossing is under constant fire,” the soldier said. “I've seen boats with my comrades on board just disappear into the water after being hit, lost forever to the Dnieper river.”

“When we arrived on the [eastern] bank, the enemy was waiting. Russians whom we managed to capture said their forces were tipped off about our landing so when we got there, they knew exactly where to find us. They threw everything at us – artillery, mortars and flamethrower systems. I thought I'd never get out,” he continued.

Those who managed to dig in on the eastern bank “were trapped,” he said, explaining how Russian drones “are constantly buzzing in the air, ready to strike as soon as they see movement.” Men who leave their trenches are “immediately targeted,” he added, complaining that supplies of food and water are scarce due to Russian forces targeting Ukrainian supply lines.

Able-bodied men are also in short supply, with the soldier explaining that his sector was supposed to be manned by several brigades, and not individual companies.

“There are a lot of young guys among us,” he said. “We need people, but trained people, not the green ones we have there now. There are guys who had spent just three weeks in training, and only managed to shoot a few times.”

The soldier also complained that getting competent and motivated conscripts had also become a challenge, noting that “everyone who wanted to volunteer for war came a long time ago - it's too hard now to tempt people with money. Now we're getting those who didn't manage to escape the draft. You'll laugh at this, but some of our marines can't even swim."