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Russia Executes Soldiers for Disobeying Orders in Ukraine, says White House Official

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The Russian military is executing soldiers who do not follow orders related to the war in Ukraine, the White House said Thursday, in what is believed to be a reflection of low morale among Russian soldiers.

“We have information that the Russian military has been actually executing soldiers who refuse to follow orders,” White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told a press conference.

“We also have information that Russian commanders are threatening to execute entire units if they seek to retreat from Ukrainian artillery fire,” Kirby added, calling the practice “barbaric.” 

Russia’s Washington embassy did not immediately reply to VOA’s email requesting comment.

Some of the recent casualties of Russian soldiers near the Ukrainian town of Avdiivka were on the orders of their own leaders, the White House said.

Ukrainian and Russian troops have been fighting for Avdiivka, a frontline town in the Donetsk region since mid-October. The town had essentially been reduced to rubble because of a recent spate of Russian bombing, the Ukrainian military said.

But recently, Russian troops have been refusing to attack Ukrainian positions near the town because of great losses, a Ukrainian army spokesperson said, adding that some Russian units had experienced mutinies.

“Russia’s mobilized forces remain under-trained, under-equipped and unprepared for combat, as was the case during their failed winter offensive last year,” Kirby said, adding that Russia appears to be employing “‘human wave’ tactics.”

“No proper equipment, no leadership, no resourcing, no support. It is unsurprising that Russian forces are suffering from poor morale,” Kirby added.

Meanwhile, the United States announced Thursday that it will be providing Ukraine with an additional $150 million military assistance package. The package will include artillery and small-arms ammunition as well as anti-tank weapons.

To date, Washington has provided Kyiv with $43.9 billion in security aid since Russia invaded, meaning the United States is Ukraine’s biggest security donor. However, future U.S. aid for Ukraine may be in jeopardy due to rising Republican opposition.

The latest package also included air defense missiles and cold weather gear.

“As winter approaches, strengthening air defense is critical to protect Ukrainian cities and infrastructure,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

With winter looming, Ukraine also said Thursday that its Black Sea grain corridor is working, contrary to recent reports that the corridor had been paused. 

“Ports of Big Odesa continue to process ships that passed through the temporary #Ukrainian_corridor,” Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said on X.

“All available routes established by the Ukrainian Navy are valid and being used by civilian vessels,” he added.

Some information in this report came from Reuters, Agence France-Presse and The Associated Press.