Russian Soldier In Snow
Representation. A Russian soldier in a snowy area. Eugene_69/Pixabay

U.K. intelligence found that morale among Russian soldiers is so low that "blocking units" have been made to shoot deserters and soldiers attempting to retreat from the front lines.

The U.K. Ministry of Defense released the report on Friday and discovered that Russia created the blocking units because of low soldier morale and high defection rates. This is a strategy used by Russia previously.

"Due to low morale and reluctance to fight, Russian forces have probably started deploying 'barrier troops' or 'blocking units,'" the intelligence report reads. It says the units will threaten their fellow soldiers to prevent them from leaving and motivate them to fight.

The report found that Russian generals are encouraging these troops to use their weapons against deserters and even kill them after an initial warning. The reports indicate to some intelligence officials the lack of training, morale, and motivation of Russian forces discussed throughout the war.

Russia is spending $84 billion on military defense in 2022, compared to Ukraine, which has diverted $8 billion to its military since the war began. Total government expenditures for Ukraine in 2021 were $62.28 billion. Much of Ukraine's military needs have been provided by allied countries such as the United States, Canada, and Great Brittan. The U.S. has committed over $18.2 billion since the war started on Feb. 24, and the number is expected to increase.

By all indicators, Russia should have quickly captured the country, but Ukraine has maintained a strong resistance and begun reclaiming areas Russia took at the start of the war. On Friday, during an evening address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia had lost more troops in the highly contested Donbas region than they did in either Chechnyan war.

"But the real level of the losses of Russia is being hidden from Russian society," Zelenskyy said.

The Russian army has recently retreated from some critical areas in the country, including the city of Lyman in the Donetsk region. Donetsk was illegally annexed by Russia on Oct. 4, along with the areas of Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia. Russia does not hold full control of any of these areas.

In June, the U.K. Ministry of Defense and NATO released reports that there had been armed standoffs between Russian troops and their officers where troops refused to follow orders.

During the same period, Ukraine's Main Intelligence Directorate released a report including intercepted phone calls from Russian soldiers complaining about poor equipment, lack of troops, and wanting to get injured so they could return home. Many Russian men eligible for military service have fled the country.

In September, Russia's lower house of parliament passed a law that would raise jail time for deserters from five years to ten. The bill was passed the day before Putin announced the 'partial mobilization of the country's military reserve.