“Bakhmut will teach you,” a commander reportedly told a soldier who complained that he had never held a gun before.
Kiev used untrained and ill-equipped troops in the losing battle for the strategic Donbass city of Artyomovsk, which Ukrainians call Bakhmut, to retain better units for its planned counteroffensive, The Wall Street Journal reported. .
In a Thursday report, the US media told the story of a group of 16 Ukrainian conscripts, who were crushed by Russian forces during fighting in Artyomovsk, Russia’s Donetsk People’s Republic in February.
The troops in question were “mainly poor men” many of whom were unemployed. They had been recruited by the Ukrainian army from villages in the northeast of the Kharkov region, according to the report. Some had completed their mandatory military service years or decades ago, but almost none had ever seen actual combat, he added.
According to the WSJ, the men only spent two nights at a base, where they received Soviet-era rifles and uniforms. After that, they were told they were deployed in Artyomovsk – the scene of a months-long clash between Russian and Ukrainian forces that has been described as a “meat grinder” and the biggest battle of the 21st century to date.
Some of the conscripts wanted to sign an official refusal to follow the order, saying they had not received the proper training for the task. One of them recalled how he complained that he had never held a gun before and was scared, but the Ukrainian sergeant major just told him that “Bakhmut will teach you.”
The 16 conscripts, who were drafted into the 5th Company of Ukraine’s 93rd Mechanized Brigade, spent just 36 hours in Artyomovsk, during which 11 of them were killed or captured, the WSJ reported, citing sources. surviving soldiers and relatives of killed recruits.
One of the soldiers told the media that he had fired a rocket-propelled grenade for the first time in his life in Artyomovsk, while the other described the Russian assault as “hell on earth.”
The Wall Street Journal suggested that kyiv used to send “mobilized soldiers and territorial defense units, sometimes with uneven training and equipment” to fight in Artyomovsk “in order to preserve brigades trained and equipped by the West for a widely anticipated offensive”, which was to start in the spring.
Evgeny Prigozhin, the head of the private military company Wagner, which led the Russian effort in Artyomovsk, said his men had “destroyed 50,000 soldiers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces” and injured 50,000 to 70,000 more. Moscow announced last Saturday the complete capture of the key Ukrainian stronghold and logistical hub, but kyiv has so far refrained from confirming the loss of the city.
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