The Russian military has dismissed as “fake” a video address by mobilized soldiers who accuse commanders of endangering them during last week's chaotic retreat from southern Ukraine’s city of Kherson, state media reported Thursday.
In the video published Tuesday, the soldiers said they had suffered losses during two days of Ukrainian shelling while they were building defensive lines on the left bank of the Dnipro River.
They accused their superiors of leaving them without artillery support, despite promises to do so, or communication with the command center.
“The commanders did not inform us that the opposite bank was fully occupied by enemy forces,” said one soldier, flanked by scores of balaclava-clad comrades.
The Russian army withdrew from Kherson, the only regional capital it has captured during its invasion of Ukraine, last week after occupying it for eight months.
In a rare public reaction amid a growing number of similar complaints from soldiers, the Russian military denied that the unit was attacked.
“An inspection established that the unit is performing intended tasks in its positions and was not exposed to fire,” the Armed Forces’ command-and-control center said in a statement quoted by the state-run TASS news agency.
It warned that “false information about difficulties that servicemen face in the special military operation area, which is aimed at discrediting the Russian Armed Forces’ activities, is continuing to spread on Telegram.”
Russia introduced criminal punishment for “fake news” about the military shortly after invading Ukraine in February.
The military’s first response to claims of negligence came in early November, when an elite naval infantry unit blamed its leaders for massive losses in a “baffling” assault on an eastern Ukrainian village.
Russia’s Defense Ministry issued a statement Nov. 7 denying the accusations and boasting that Ukrainian forces had suffered up to nine times as many losses as the Russian unit.