Russia has seemingly begun to recruit elderly men from all regions of the vast country to fight on the frontlines in southeastern Ukraine as bitter fighting continues to rage in Donetsk.
Video footage which emerged on YouTube earlier this month showed a series of volunteer recruits from Primorsky Krai (Primorye), a region of Russia so far east it borders North Korea, training with rifles in a field ahead of their deployment to Ukraine.
Several of the individuals captured in the video appear to be middle-aged and elderly men, who reportedly signed an agreement with DOSAAF (Russia’s volunteer corps) to undergo a short training programme before being shipped off to fight alongside Russia’s 155th Separate Marine Guards Brigade.
‘All these people are united by one desire – to protect their family and homeland,’ said newscaster Valeria Nikolaeva.
‘Despite the lack of combat experience, they are still ready for anything,’ she added, declaring the group had been given the designation ‘Tiger Battalion’.
Clips broadcast on YouTube by Primorye Pubic Television showed the recruits learning how to fire assault rifles and listening to instructors demonstrating proper technique.
But separate images shared on social media by Nexta TV and Ukraine Now showed the same recruits looking dejected and worn out.
‘The toothless ”Tigers” are not too happy for some reason,’ one comment quipped.
News that Russia is recruiting elderly volunteers who live more than 5000 miles from the conflict in Ukraine comes as Richard Moore, the head of Britain’s secret intelligence service MI6, said he believes Moscow’s military is ‘running out of steam’ and may need to ‘pause’ their invasion in the coming weeks due to a lack of manpower.
Video footage which has emerged on YouTube showed a series of volunteer recruits from Primorsky Krai (Primorye), a region of Russia so far east it borders North Korea, training with rifles in a field ahead of their deployment to Ukraine
Several of the individuals captured in the video appear to be middle-aged and elderly men, who reportedly signed an agreement with DOSAAF (Russia’s volunteer corps) to undergo a short training programme before being shipped off to fight alongside Russia’s 155th Separate Marine Guards Brigade
Images shared on social media showed the recruits looking dejected and worn out
Clips broadcast on YouTube by Primorye Pubic Television earlier this month showed the recruits learning how to fire assault rifles and listening to instructors demonstrating proper technique
One volunteer appeared happy to receive his training and go to fight in Ukraine, having bought the Russian state media narrative of Putin’s special operation being designed to rid Ukraine of Nazis.
‘This is not just a special operation. In my opinion, this is cleaning. Cleansing from fascism. Our grandfathers did not finish it – we must complete the matter,’ the recruit blabbed.
But several others sounded decidedly less enthused.
‘It’s not good when children, instead of playing games and living a happy life, are telling adults how to hide from bombs and talking about what kind of ammunition is being used,’ one volunteer said, making no references to Ukraine while wearing a mask and refusing to be named in the interview.
‘My son is the commander of an air assault platoon [in Ukraine],’ said another. ‘I hope we will be beside each other.’
Meanwhile, the head of the southern operational command unit of Ukraine’s ministry of defence, Natalya Gumenyuk, said that Russian military leaders are simply pushing ‘cannon fodder’ to the frontlines.
Gumenyuk declared Russia is calling up ‘completely incomprehensible forces’, specifically referencing the Tiger battalion as an example of ‘unreliable’ troops.
‘Reserves are being sought out in socially unreliable groups… [They are likely] to be cannon fodder. But we are preparing for any scenarios,’ Gumenyuk said, adding that the enemy should not be underestimated.
News of the Tiger battalion comes as MI6 chief Moore declared Putin‘s war effort is ‘running out of steam’ in Ukraine and suggested his forces may have to ‘pause’ their assault in the coming weeks.
Moore said the war was ‘obviously not over’ but the Russian president had made an ‘epic fail’ with his underwhelming invasion of the sovereign state.
Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum in the US, Mr Moore said: ‘I think he has suffered a strategic failure in Ukraine. It is obviously not over.
‘He has obviously made, and the Russian forces have made, some incremental progress over recent weeks and months but it is tiny amounts.
‘We are talking about a small number of miles of advance. When they take a town, there is nothing left. It is obliterated.
Richard Moore (pictured), the chief of the UK Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), said the war was ‘obviously not over’ but the Russian President had obviously made ‘epic fail’ invading the sovereign state
Vladimir Putin is ‘running out of steam’ 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 battle tank, destroyed during battles 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 losses and seen at least 66 of his colonels killed in the fighting
‘I think they are about to run out of steam. I think our assessment is that the Russians will increasingly find it difficult to supply manpower over the next few weeks.
‘They will have to pause in some way and that will give Ukrainians opportunities to strike back. Their morale is still high. They are starting to receive increasing amounts of good weaponry.’
With winter coming and the pressure on gas supplies, ‘we are in for a tough time’, according to Mr Moore, who believes a Ukrainian fightback could spread benefits across Europe.
He said: ‘It is important I think to the Ukrainians themselves that they demonstrate their ability to strike back. I think that will be very important for their continuing high morale.
‘I also think, to be honest, it will be an important reminder to the rest of Europe that this is a winnable campaign by the Ukrainians.’
The United States earlier this month estimated that Russia has lost more than 15,000 troops since war began on February 24.
But Ukraine’s armed forces place the figure of Russian casualties far higher, close to 40,000.