Putin's troops are 'relying on basic equipment sourced by civilians'

Putin's troops are 'relying on basic equipment sourced by civilians'

June 6, 2022

Even Russia’s AIR FORCE is crowdfunded! Putin’s troops are ‘relying on basic equipment bought and donated by civilians’ in scathing indictment of Russian military’s preparedness

  • Russia’s air force is now turning to crowdfunding to source basic equipment
  • It comes amid reports Russia’s military is lacking bare necessities on frontlines
  • Both sides are leveraging social media to call for crowdfunding campaigns
  • Russian citizens are helping to provide medicine, ammo and key supplies 
  • But Ukraine’s Armed Forces are benefiting from hundreds of independent foreign fundraisers and are able to purchase and maintain high-end equipment
  • It comes as Russian conscription units release a series of videos explaining how they were sent to the frontlines with no medical supplies or food 

Russia’s air force is now turning to crowdfunding to source basic equipment needed to continue its operations in Ukraine after just three months of conflict. 

Images posted on Russian aviation Telegram channel Fighterbomber showed a series of radios, flashlights, binoculars and even pilot helmets, visors and oxygen masks that were funded or sourced by some of the channel’s 125,000 subscribers.

In one image, a squadron of Russian pilots can be seen posing in front of what appears to be a worn Su-25 fighter jet with an assortment of crowdfunded equipment including their pilots’ helmets.

One pilot is lacking a pair of military-issue boots and was forced to wear a pair of running shoes, showcasing the extent to which Russia’s fighting forces have been deprived of proper kit.

Many of the messages on the pro-war channel displayed support for the crowdfunding efforts and offered encouragement to the Russian pilots and servicemen.

But other users openly condemned Russia’s military leaders for allowing their forces to be so woefully under-prepared.

‘I have no words for this… the generals and their plebeians have been sitting on the military budget for years – now ordinary people have to rally around their army and help it with supplies!’ one channel subscribed commented.

There have been widespread reports of Russian soldiers being ordered into battle with ageing weapons, poor rations and little to no medical supplies, even in the early days of the war.

A squadron of Russian pilots pose in front of a worn Su-25 fighter jet, emblazoned with the infamous ‘Z’ symbol, holding an assortment of crowdfunded equipment including their pilots’ helmets. One pilot is even lacking standard issue military boots and is stood in running shoes

Images posted on Russian aviation Telegram channel Fighterbomber showed a series of radios, flashlights, binoculars and even pilot helmets, visors and oxygen masks that were funded or sourced by some of the channel’s 125,000 subscribers

A Russian soldier stands holding a new radio and binoculars donated by Russian civilians

A Russian soldier is pictured displaying the latest equipment afforded to him thanks to crowdfunding. He is holding a new pair of binoculars and also has a new phone and a small scout drone

The war in Ukraine is perhaps the first major armed conflict in which both sides have leveraged social media to crowdfund the war effort.

Ukraine’s Armed Forces have benefited from international aid, receiving large consignments of small arms, anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, drones, military vehicles and even some long range missiles and heavy artillery from NATO countries.

But hundreds of crowdfunding initiatives – both government-backed and independent – have been set up and promoted on social media to drum up the maximum amount of funding possible in Ukraine and abroad.

Last week, a Lithuanian crowdfunding campaign launched by journalist Andrius Tapinas raised more than 5 million euros in just five days to purchase a Turkish Bayraktar TB-2 – an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) which has proved to be invaluable to Ukraine’s military for locating and destroying Russian tank units. 

The drone’s manufacturer, Baykar, was so impressed by the outpouring of support from the Lithuanian public that they decided to offer the drone free of charge, freeing up the funds to purchase more armaments as well as humanitarian aid projects.

A Ukrainian colonel told German media organisation DW that crowdfunding campaigns are ‘of critical importance’ to Ukraine’s war effort, and said the funds are typically used to purchase and maintain high-end equipment like armoured vehicles, drones and surveillance systems.

Russia’s crowdfunding efforts however appear to be focused on providing the bare necessities for troops. 

There has been some evidence of Russian forces deploying crowdfunded UAVs and other high-end equipment, but the majority of reports suggest the bulk of the funding is dedicated to sourcing basic essentials such as field radios, medical supplies, binoculars and small arms. 

The widespread condemnation of the invasion of Ukraine means the Russian public’s crowdfunding efforts lack support from foreign citizens and thus can only drum up meagre sums. 

One Russian citizen responsible for orchestrating a crowdfunding programme in Belgorod – a city close to Ukraine’s border – told the Telegraph that two of the most popular requests from the frontlines are for thermal imaging equipment and shovels, suggesting many of Putin’s troops are lacking even the most basic tools for fighting in Ukraine’s forests, fields and wooded areas.

An assortment of basic equipment including binoculars and monoculars, radios and flight gear is seen after being donated to Russia’s air force by Russian citizens

Pictured: Essential tools and supplies to help maintain military aircraft and equipment, crowdfunded as part of an aid package to Russia’s airforce

Lithuanian Deputy Defence Minister Vilius Semeska poses with Selcuk Bayraktar, Chief Technology Officer of Turkish technology company Baykar, and Haluk Bayraktar, Chief Executive Officer of Baykar, next a Bayraktar TB2 advanced combat drone in Istanbul, Turkey June 2, 2022. A Lithuanian journalist raised more than 5 million euros in five days to purchase the highly effective drone for the Ukrainian military

It comes as conscripted forces from the Donbas region claimed they had been forced to fight for months on the frontlines without any medical support. 

In footage posted on Telegram, the soldiers – who claimed to be from the 113th rifle regiment of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic – say they have been fighting for months in ‘hunger and cold’ without proper kit or medical care.

Their commander says men with chronic medical conditions, who should have escaped the draft, have instead been sent into the midst of the fighting alongside carers and those with young children.

‘The higher command interpret our complaints as sabotage,’ he says. ‘But what is there to be gained from sending your soldiers to die?’ 

The video emerged amid bitter and bloody fighting between Ukraine and Russia in Donbas, of which Donetsk is a part, though the unit in the video is thought to have been stationed near Kherson – an occupied city hundreds of miles to the south west.

The commander can be heard saying: ‘Our company, consisting of the 5th Infantry Battalion of the 113th Infantry Regiment, was on the frontlines in the Kherson region of Ukraine.

A company commander from the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic army has complained that his men are being sent to the frontlines without food, kit or medicine

‘For that time the personnel overcame cold and hunger and for a considerable period we did so without material support, medical supplies or food.

‘The mobilisation of our unit took place without any medical examinations, and there are those among our unit who in accordance with the laws of the Donetsk People’s Republic should not be mobilised. 

‘There are members of our personnel who suffer from chronic diseases and others who are guardians of people with mental illnesses.’

‘For those who are fathers to children and taking into account the duration of our continues presence on the frontlines, many questions arise that are ignored by command.’

He then speaks separately to troops who voice their concerns, but say they are being ignored by their commanders.

Areas of Donetsk and neighbouring Luhansk which were occupied by pro-Russian rebels before the start of the war – so-called ‘People’s Republics’ – announced a general mobilisation in late February, just before the war broke it.

All men under the age of 55 were banned from leaving the territory, and put on notice that they might be called up to join the fighting.

Since then, Denis Pushilin – leader of the Donetsk People’s Republic – has been forced to raise the age to 65, because so few men have been found to join the army.

Those in the occupied areas – many of whom consider Ukraine to be their home country – have described thousands of men going into hiding to avoid the draft.

Fighting-age men are said to be hiding in the basements and back-rooms of houses where no males are registered, since the draft is organised by address.

Russian soldiers with chronic medical conditions have been sent into the thick of the fighting and that any complaints are treated as ‘sabotage’

Ukrainian forces are still locked in savage fighting with Russian troops in the industrial city of Severodonetsk according to Serhiy Haidai, governor of Luhansk province.

‘The fiercest fighting is in Severodonetsk. Fast-moving fighting is happening right now,’ he said on national television this morning.

Severodonetsk is one of the final urban centres still under partial Ukrainian control in the Luhansk region, which together with neighbouring Donetsk constitutes the Donbas – the part of eastern Ukraine the Kremlin says it is on a mission to ‘liberate’.

Moscow has focused most of its firepower on the Donbas after Ukraine pushed its troops back from Kyiv in March and out of Ukraine’s second biggest city Kharkiv last month.

Russian forces were fortifying their positions in the Kharkiv region and ‘conducting intensive artillery and mortar shelling of our positions’ to keep hold of the territory they had occupied, Ukraine’s military general staff said on Monday.

It said Russia was targeting civilian infrastructure in several towns in the region and the regional administration said three civilians were killed and 10 wounded in shelling.

It was not immediately possible to verify the toll. Moscow denies targeting civilians.

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