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Russia Executing Soldiers Refusing Orders in New Ukraine Assault – White House

Russian servicemen. Alexander Reka / TASS

Russia is executing soldiers who refuse to follow the orders of their commanders as it carries out a new offensive in eastern Ukraine, the White House said Thursday, noting that Russian forces were suffering "significant" losses of armor and personnel.  

"We have information that the Russian military has been actually executing soldiers who are refusing to follow orders," National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said during a press briefing.

"We also have information that Russian commanders are threatening to execute entire units if they seek to retreat from Ukrainian artillery fire," he added.

Kirby did not give further details when asked about the alleged executions or how the United States had obtained the information.

Russia has stepped up attacks near the town of Avdiivka in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region and the northeastern city of Kupyansk as it tries to move the front line forward before winter, when fighting will become much more difficult. 

Moscow has suffered "significant losses" in the new offensive, including at least 125 armored vehicles and "thousands" of soldier casualties, Kirby said.

"The Russian military appears to be using what we would call human wave tactics," he said. "It is unsurprising that Russian forces are suffering from poor morale."

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