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Russian troops ordered to fight with ‘shovels’ in hand-to-hand combat, UK defense intel says

Russian soldiers are being ordered to fight Ukrainian forces with only “firearms and shovels,” said the UK’s Ministry of Defence. 

An intelligence briefing from the UK Ministry of Defence details that Russian reservists were ordered to “assault a Ukrainian concrete strong point armed with only firearms and shovels'” in February 2023. 

“The ‘shovels’ are likely entrenching tools being employed for hand-to-hand combat,” said the briefing.

It is thought that the “shovels” in question are the renowned MPL-50 entrenching tools first designed in 1869. Soviet special forces used it in close-quarters combat and as throwing weapons. The MPL-50 as a weapon had been “mythologized” in Russia, said the MoD.

Russian MPL 50
Russian MPL 50 

Using the entrenching tool, “little changed since it was designed in 1869,”  highlighted the brutal and low-tech fighting which has come to characterize the year-long war between Russia and Ukraine, said the MoD.

The increase in hand-to-hand combat in Ukraine was due to a declining number of troops, artillery, and munition, it said.

The intelligence briefing also raised the question of the welfare of Russian troops, stating that a reservist said they were not “physically or psychologically” ready for the war. 

The fighting ability and morale of Putin’s mobilized troops were highlighted in previous intelligence from the Ministry of Defence, saying they were called to fight despite having “serious, chronic health conditions.” 

Indeed, it has been reported that Russian forces have been deploying “barrier troops”  or “blocking units” to shoot Russian soldiers who defect and desert the war. 

According to a brief from the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), between 60,000 and 70,000 Russian soldiers have been killed on the battlefield in Ukraine since the invasion began on February 24 2022.

Source : BusinessInsider

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