Russia has apparently begun recruiting older men from all regions of the vast country to fight on the front lines in south-eastern Ukraine, while bitter fighting continues in Donetsk.
Video footage surfaced on YouTube earlier this month shows a number of volunteer recruits from Primorsky Krai (Primorye), a region of Russia bordering North Korea as far east as they do, training with rifles in a field before their deployment to Ukraine .
Several of those captured in the video appear to be middle-aged and elderly men who have reportedly signed an agreement with DOSAAF (Russia’s Volunteer Corps) to complete a short training program before going to fight alongside the 155th Separate Marines Guards Brigade of Russia.
“All these people are united by one desire – to protect their family and their homeland,” said news anchor Valeria Nikolaeva.
“Despite the lack of combat experience, they are still ready for anything,” she added, explaining that the group was given the designation “Tiger Battalion.”
Clips broadcast on YouTube by Primorye Pubic Television showed recruits learning how to fire assault rifles and instructors demonstrating proper technique.
But separate images shared on social media by Nexta TV and Ukraine Now showed the same recruits looking dejected and exhausted.
“The toothless ‘tigers’ aren’t too happy for some reason,” joked one commenter.
The news that Russia is recruiting elderly volunteers living more than 5,000 miles from the conflict in Ukraine comes as Richard Moore, the head of Britain’s MI6 intelligence agency, has said he believes the Moscow military is “running out of steam” and may have to ‘pause’ their invasion in the coming weeks due to staff shortages.
Video footage surfaced on YouTube showed a number of volunteer recruits from Primorsky Krai (Primorye), a region of Russia bordering North Korea as far east as they do, training with rifles in a field before being deployed to Ukraine
Several of those captured in the video appear to be middle-aged and elderly men who have reportedly signed an agreement with DOSAAF (Russia’s Volunteer Corps) to complete a short training program before going to fight alongside the 155th Separate Marines Guards Brigade of Russia
Pictures shared on social media showed the recruits looking dejected and exhausted
Clips aired on Primorye Public Television’s YouTube earlier this month showed recruits learning how to fire assault rifles and instructors demonstrating proper technique
One volunteer appeared happy to receive his training and fight in Ukraine after buying Russian state media narrative of Putin’s special operation aimed at ridding Ukraine of Nazis.
“This is not just a special operation. I think it’s a cleanse. purge of fascism. Our grandfathers didn’t finish it – we have to finish it,’ the recruit babbled.
But a few others sounded decidedly less enthusiastic.
“It’s not good when children, instead of playing games and living a happy life, tell adults how to hide from bombs and talk about what kind of ammunition is used,” said one volunteer, without citing to refer to Ukraine while wearing a mask and declined to be named in the interview.
“My son is the commander of an air raid platoon [in Ukraine]’ said another. “I hope we will be next to each other.”
Meanwhile, the head of Ukraine’s Defense Ministry’s Southern Operational Command Unit, Natalya Gumenyuk, said Russian military leaders are simply pushing “cannon fodder” to the front lines.
Gumenyuk declared that Russia was calling on “completely incomprehensible forces” and specifically cited the Tiger Battalion as an example of “unreliable” troops.
“Reserves are sought in socially unreliable groups… [They are likely] be cannon fodder. But we are preparing for all scenarios,” Gumenyuk said, adding that the enemy should not be underestimated.
News of the Tiger Battalion comes as MI6 chief Moore declared that Putin’s war effort in Ukraine was “running out of steam” and suggested his forces might have to “pause” their attack in the coming weeks.
Moore said the war was “obviously not over” but the Russian president had made an “epic failure” with his overwhelming invasion of the sovereign state.
Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum in the US, Mr. Moore said: “I think he made a strategic mistake in Ukraine. It’s obviously not over yet.
“He has obviously, and the Russian Armed Forces have made some incremental progress over the last few weeks and months, but the amounts are tiny.
“We’re talking a small number of miles ahead. When they capture a city, nothing is left. It’s erased.
Richard Moore (pictured), the head of Britain’s Secret Service (MI6), said the war was “apparently not over” but the Russian president had apparently made an “epic failure” in invading the sovereign state
Vladimir Putin is “running out of breath” in Ukraine and his forces may have to “pause” in the coming weeks, the head of MI6 has said. Pictured: The remains of a Russian main battle tank destroyed in fighting in the village of Velyka Dymerka northeast of Kyiv
The news comes as Vladimir Putin (pictured at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow) has suffered heavy casualties and seen at least 66 of his colonels killed in the fighting
“I think they’re about to run out of breath. I think our assessment is that the Russians will find it increasingly difficult to supply labor in the coming weeks.
“They will have to rest in some way and that will give the Ukrainians an opportunity to hit back. Their morale is still high. You start getting more and more good weapons.’
With winter approaching and gas supplies under pressure, “we are facing a difficult time,” said Mr. Moore, who believes a Ukrainian uprising could bring benefits across Europe.
He said: “I think it’s important for the Ukrainians themselves to show their ability to hit back. I think that will be very important to their continued high morale.
“To be honest, I also think it will be an important reminder to the rest of Europe that this is a winnable campaign for Ukrainians.”
The United States estimated earlier this month that Russia has lost more than 15,000 troops since the war began on February 24.
But Ukrainian forces estimate the number of Russian casualties far higher, nearly 40,000.