Ukraine says Russia is failing to recruit new troops because they know they'll become 'cannon fodder'

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A Ukrainian soldier stands next to a destroyed Russian anti-aircraft missile system, marked with the "Z" symbol, in the village of Husarivka in Kharkiv region, Ukraine, on April 14, 2022.
Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters
  • Russia failed to mobilise 26,000 reservists to fight in the Donbas, Ukraine's defense ministry said.
  • That's because potential Russian recruits were afraid of becoming "cannon fodder," the ministry said.
  • Russia has lost multiple high-ranking officers in the face of surprisingly strong Ukrainian resistance.
  • For more stories, go to

Russia is failing to recruit new troops because potential conscripts are too afraid of dying in battle, Ukraine's defense ministry told a Friday press briefing, citing military intelligence.

Russia had planned to mobilise 26,000 reservists to fight in the Donbas, but this effort ultimately failed because Russians were avoiding being conscripted, defense ministry spokesman Col. Oleksandr Motuzyanyk told the briefing.

"Males aged 18 to 65 make every attempt to avoid mobilisation because they don't want to become cannon fodder for the occupier's army," Motuzyanyk said.

Ukraine's defense ministry claims it has killed about 20,000 soldiers and officers of the Russian army. This figure has not been independently verified.  

Motuzyanyk told reporters that potential recruits had been promised that their duties would include "controlling occupied territories, guarding roads and military facilities, and improving the defense positions."

The reality, he said, is they have been forced into battle to replace those killed in combat.

"As practical experience shows, such mobilised people are the first priority reserve to replenish losses of those units who are directly engaged in combat action against Ukraine," Motuzyanyk said.

Multiple reports in recent weeks have described low morale among Russian forces in Ukraine. The BBC reported earlier this week that Russia's losses in Ukraine included elite troops that take years and millions of dollars to train.

Mikhail Benyash, a lawyer representing Russian national guardsmen who were fired for refusing to go to Ukraine, told the Financial Times that hundreds of people had gotten in touch with him looking for advice on avoiding the war.

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