Russian reservists 'told to find their own first aid supplies'

Claim by UK intelligence comes as Moscow's troops could face defeat in Lyman

Russian recruits at a station in Prudboi, Russia. They are being told sanitary products are a cost-effective solution to a lack of first aid kits, says the UK. AP
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Medical provisions for Russian troops are becoming more scarce, with reservists ordered to source their own supplies, according to British military intelligence.

The new Russian recruits are being told sanitary products are a cost-effective solution, the UK’s Ministry of Defence said.

The news comes as Russia prepares on Friday to host a ceremony in the Kremlin to annex regions in Ukraine that have held referendums, denounced as a sham by the west.

President Vladimir Putin will meet the Kremlin-installed leaders of Luhansk, Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia before the ceremony of incorporation, when he signs “treaties of accession” in Moscow.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called the planned annexations a “dangerous escalation” and said they would jeopardise prospects for peace.

Mr Putin has doubled down on the invasion he ordered in February, despite suffering a major reversal on the battlefield this month, after Ukrainian forces took back swathes of territory.

Reports emerging from the battlefield suggest Russian troops could be on the brink of another major defeat, this time in Lyman, Russia’s remaining bastion in northern Donetsk, which is being encircled by Ukrainian forces.

Its capture would open the way into the Luhansk region.

“If Lyman falls, our forces can … cut the main supply corridor to Russian troops in Severodonetsk and Lysychansk [in Luhansk],” Ukraine's military General Staff said. The two towns were taken by Russian troops in June and July.

There is also discontent in Russia over the widely criticised “partial mobilisation” of thousands more men to fight in Ukraine.

“Medical provision for Russian combat troops in Ukraine is probably growing worse,” said the MoD in its daily intelligence update on Friday.

“Some newly mobilised Russian reservists have been ordered to source their own combat first aid supplies, with the advice that female sanitary products are a cost-effective solution.”

Some Russian troops have obtained their own western-style combat tourniquets but have stowed them on their equipment using cable-ties, rather than with the Velcro provided, probably to prevent them from being stolen.

“This is almost certain to hamper or render impossible the timely application of tourniquet care in the case of catastrophic bleeding on the battlefield,” said the MoD.

“Russian troops’ lack of confidence in sufficient medical provision is almost certainly contributing to a declining state of morale and a lack of willingness to undertake offensive operations in many units in Ukraine.”

British military intelligence estimates the number of military men fleeing Russia to escape the draft probably exceeds the number of troops Moscow used in its initial invasion in February.

“The better off and well educated are over-represented among those attempting to leave Russia,” said the MoD.

“When combined with those reservists who are being mobilised, the domestic economic impact of reduced availability of labour and the acceleration of ‘brain drain’ is likely to become increasingly significant.”

Updated: September 30, 2022, 7:21 AM
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