Support Us

Russia forcibly sends men who refused to fight to Kharkiv Oblast – ISW

Tuesday, 4 June 2024, 04:57
Russia forcibly sends men who refused to fight to Kharkiv Oblast – ISW
Soldiers. Photo: General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine

Russia has been forcibly sending men who refused to fight in Ukraine to the front instead of prosecuting them for refusing to participate in combat operations.

Source: Institute for the Study of War (ISW)

ISW believes that Russian forces launched an offensive in northern Kharkiv Oblast when the Northern Grouping of Forces was understrength. Therefore, the Russian Defence Ministry has been sending servicemen awaiting trial to the front in Kharkiv Oblast to reinforce the limited forces in this area.


The Russian opposition media outlet Verstka stated on 3 June that Russian military officials had begun forcibly deploying hundreds of servicemen who had refused to engage in combat to the front in Ukraine, specifically to northern Kharkiv Oblast and Donetsk Oblast  in May 2024.

Initially, these soldiers were held at military bases in Russia, awaiting trial for their refusal to fight. However, their trials were abruptly cancelled and they were sent directly to Ukraine.

Verstka reported that some soldiers had been coerced into volunteering for deployment through physical abuse. Others were forcibly taken from their cells at gunpoint and transported to the frontlines. 

At least 170 servicemen have had their trials cancelled and have been deployed to Ukraine without the knowledge of the legal authorities, including investigators, prosecutors and lawyers.

Furthermore, several sources, including one from the Russian leader’s administration, indicated that the Russian military is assigning conscripts and less skilled reservists to non-combat roles within Russia's border forces. They are doing this to free up experienced soldiers for the offensive in northern Kharkiv Oblast. However, deserters are also being sent to fight.

To quote the ISW’s Key Takeaways on 3 June:

  • Ukrainian forces struck a Russian S-300/400 air defence battery in Belgorod Oblast likely with HIMARS on 1 or 2 June.
  • The People's Republic of China (PRC) and Russia are reportedly in disagreement about economic issues such as the proposed Power of Siberia 2 (PS-2) pipeline despite publicly portraying themselves as diplomatically aligned.
  • Putin also reportedly asked Xi in May 2024 to "snub" the upcoming Ukrainian peace conference in Switzerland amid continued Russian efforts to discredit and otherwise undermine the peace conference.
  • Russian forces continue to abuse Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) in violation of the Geneva Convention on POWs.
  • Russian military and political leadership continues to pursue increased military, political, and economic cooperation with several African states.
  • The Russian military is reportedly forcibly sending Russian servicemembers who refused to fight to the front in Ukraine from Russia instead of standing trial for their refusal to participate in combat.
  • Georgian Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili signed the Russian-style "foreign agents" bill into law on 3 June amid continued protests.
  • Ukrainian forces recently advanced within Vovchansk and Russian forces recently advanced near Lyptsi, Avdiivka and Velyka Novoslika and in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
  • The family members of mobilised Russian personnel continue to protest for the demobilisation of their relatives.

Support UP or become our patron!