Soldier with the 200th Brigade from Pechenga says commanders execute their own men

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It has long been rumored that Russia is executing its own soldiers; deserters and those disobeying orders. 

A young soldier, who identifies himself with full name, military number tag, and location at the frontline, now tells the barbaric story from the trench on the battlefield. 

“…the situation is difficult. My own people want to nullify me, to shoot me,” he tells.

 

The soldier shows the double ID-tag with his number aimed for identification in case of being killed in battle. Screenshot from video on Telegram

 

He explains how his commanders called him back from the front line, but he refused to follow order and still stays in the trench. “They declared that I deserted and ran away.” 

The young man fears that also his fellow fighter who denied orders will be executed. 

“In our 200th Brigade, 3rd Battalion, 9th Company, this happens regularly, just doesn’t go anywhere,” the man says with fear.  

“They burry them in the marshes,” he claims. 

The 5 minutes long video-recording aimed for his girlfriend was first posted on Telegram and later spread across social media this weekend. The Barents Observer is not identifying the soldier or his fellow colleague now fighting in the front line of Russia’s battlefield in occupied Ukraine. 

Big losses 

The 200th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade has a long and bloody record in Ukraine.

In 2014, the Brigade’s soldiers and armored vehicles took part in the Russian invasion to Donbas and where are the time stationed near Luhansk airport.

With the full-scale invasion in February 2022, large parts of the brigade where destroyed near Kharkiv during the first days of fighting. Attempts have since been made to regroup and refit the brigade, filling in the losses, with a variety of so-called mobiks (mobilized men), veterans, volunteer soldiers and coastal troops with the Northern Fleet from the Kola Peninsula. 

The 200th Brigade is based in Pechenga just over 10 kilometers from Russia’s border with Norway. The Brigade is part of the recently re-born Western Military District and was previously one of Russia’s two Arctic Brigades. 

 

19 km is the largest base of the 200th Motorized Rifle Brigade in Pechenga. The main road E105 from the Norwegian border towards Murmansk goes next to the barbed wire fences in front of the barracks home to the soldiers. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

 

How many thousands of soldiers fighting with the different battalion tactical groups of the 200th Brigade that are killed in Ukraine is a strict Russian military secret. Norway’s intelligence said in early 2023 that the land forces on Kola are reduced to a fifth of their original numbers before the full-scale invasion.

Kyiv’s military intelligence says now by the start of May that the Ukraine war has cost Russia nearly half a million soldiers killed or wounded. The numbers are not independently confirmed. 

Moral problem 

The United States last October made public the first intelligence reports about how Russia’s armed forces struggles with discipline among the soldiers sent to the “meat grinder” in illegally occupied Ukraine. 

National Security spokesman John Kirby said the execution of own soldiers who fail to follow orders reflects the moral problem Russia faces.

“It’s reprehensible to this about that you would execute your own soldiers because they didn’t want to follow orders,” Kirby said at a White House press briefing

Kirby said it was “a symptom of how poorly Russia’s military leaders know they are doing and how bad they handled this from a military perspective.”