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Alcohol seen to be a significant factor in non-combat deaths among Russian troops

Alcohol continues to be a blight on Russia’s armed forces, with Britain’s Defense Ministry suggesting a significant minority of non-combat related deaths have been caused by drink.

“While Russia has suffered up to 200,000 casualties since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, a significant minority of these have been due to non-combat causes,” the U.K. said Sunday, noting that a Russian Telegram news channel recently reported there have been “‘extremely high” numbers of incidents, crimes, and deaths linked to alcohol consumption among the deployed Russian forces. 

“Other leading causes of non-combat casualties likely include poor weapon handing drills, road traffic accidents and climatic injuries such as hypothermia,” the ministry said.

While it’s likely that Russian commanders identify pervasive alcohol abuse as “particularly detrimental to combat effectiveness,” the ministry noted it’s difficult for Russia’s military leaders to curb drinking among their units.

“With heavy drinking pervasive across much of Russian society, it has long been seen as a tacitly accepted part of military life, even on combat operations.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia puts woman media name as suspect in war blogger’s killing on wanted list, Interfax reports

Russia’s interior ministry on Monday placed a woman Russian media have described as a suspect in the killing of war blogger Vladlen Tatarsky on its wanted list, the Interfax news agency reported.

Vladlen Tatarsky, whose real name was Maxim Fomin, was killed in a bomb blast at a cafe in St Petersburg on Sunday.

A woman called Darya Trepova was identified by some Russian media as a suspect online, though the interior ministry made no reference to the Tatarsky killing on its site which showed she had been put on its wanted list.

Fomin, who had 560,000 followers on the messaging app Telegram, was one of the most prominent of Russia’s war bloggers – a mixed group of war veterans and correspondents who have championed Russia’s campaign in Ukraine, while also offering stinging criticism of the Russian military leadership.

— Reuters

Russian military blogger’s death investigated as a ‘high-profile murder’

The death of Russian pro-war military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky in an explosion in a cafe in St. Petersburg on Sunday evening is being investigated as a “high-profile murder,” Russia’s investigative committee said Sunday.

Russia’s Health Ministry said 30 people had been injured as a result of the blast, with 24 people sent to hospital, news agency RIA Novosti reported.

Tatarsky was a prominent pro-war blogger and, unlike most others, he had also fought in Ukraine and had commented extensively on the war and Russia’s military strategy. He had been a guest speaker at the cafe in St. Petersburg when the explosion took place. Unconfirmed reports suggest that Tatarsky, whose real name was Maxim Fomin, had been given a statue in a box that had later exploded.

It’s unclear who was responsible for the attack on Sunday.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova slammed the West for not condemning the attack, stating on Telegram that when it came to any case relating to the “violent death of a Russian journalist … not only did they not conduct investigations, but they did not even show elementary human sympathy.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Wagner mercenary chief claims Russian flag has been raised over Bakhmut town hall

The head of the Wagner Group of mercenaries fighting in Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine said Monday that his units had technically captured the town that has been the epicenter of fighting in Donetsk for months.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the Wagner private military company, posted a video on his Telegram channel saying the flag had a tribute on it to the Russian military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky, who died in an explosion at a St. Petersburg cafe on Sunday evening.

“We hoisted the Russian flag with the inscription “Good memory to Vladlen Tatarsky” and the flag of PMC “Wagner” on the city administration of Bakhmut. Legally, Bakhmut is taken,” Prigozhin said in comments posted on Telegram Sunday evening. He noted, however, that Ukrainian units remained in western districts of the town.

CNBC was unable to verify the claims but Ukraine’s military has not conceded defeat in Bakhmut, a town that has been fought over for over seven months now.

On Monday, the General Staff of Ukraine’s armed forces said Russian units were relentlessly assaulting Bakhmut “trying to take it under complete control,” but that its soldiers had “repelled more than 20 enemy attacks.”

Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Defense Hanna Maliar posted on Facebook Sunday evening that the “the situation in Bakhmut remains very tense,” adding that “our defenders have to stop the advance of the enemy in difficult conditions.”

Maliar said “excessively high losses of personnel” wasn’t deterring Russian forces. Both Ukraine and Russia claim to have inflicted significant losses upon each other during months of fighting around Bakhmut, leaving much of the town in ruins.

— Holly Ellyatt

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