Part-time Russian soldiers sent to the battlefield in Ukraine are increasingly being forced to fight only with small arms and even shovels as the Kremlin contends with shortages of ammunition like artillery shells, according to a just-released British intelligence assessment.
Recent reports from mobilized Russian reservists indicate they were ordered to assault a Ukrainian strong point last month armed only with “firearms and shovels.” British military intelligence officials say the “shovels” the troops refer to likely are army-issue MPL-50 entrenching tools.
British officials said the use of an MPL-50 as a hand-to-hand weapon is “particularly mythologized” in the Russian military.
“Little changed since it was designed in 1869, its continued use as a weapon highlights the brutal and low-tech fighting which has come to characterize much of the war,” British intelligence officials tweeted Sunday.
The Russian reservists ordered to take the shovels into combat are reporting that they are neither physically nor psychologically prepared for the combat they encounter in Ukraine.
“This is probably a result of the Russian command continuing to insist on offensive action largely consisting of dismounted infantry, with less support from artillery fire because Russia is short of munitions,” British intelligence officials said.
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