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File photo of Russian soldiers.

EYEPRESS MEDIA LIMITED

What’s wrong with Russian soldiers?

“Success [in war] never did and never will depend on position, or on ammunition, or even on number. [It depends] on the feeling that’s in me, in him, in every soldier.”

So says Prince Andrei on the eve of battle in Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. He predicts that the outnumbered and outgunned Russian soldiers defending their homeland will defeat the superior invading force led by Napoleon because the defenders have the stronger will to fight. The French forces won the battle but lost so many men in the process that their invasion ultimately stalled.

With that in mind, the Pentagon claimed this week that US intelligence sees a potentially debilitating low morale among some Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine. The publicly cited evidence includes reports that substantial numbers of Russian troops have surrendered their weapons with little or no fight, that some have sabotaged their own vehicles and equipment to stall their advance toward Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, and anecdotal reports of lost and demoralized Russian troops begging for food.

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