Russian reserve fighters not 'psychologically prepared' for brutal war tactics in Ukraine

Ukrainian forces drive a tank across a street in the city of Bakhmut, Donetsk area, Ukraine, on Jan. 4. File photo by George Ivanchenko/EPA-EFE
1 of 3 | Ukrainian forces drive a tank across a street in the city of Bakhmut, Donetsk area, Ukraine, on Jan. 4. File photo by George Ivanchenko/EPA-EFE

March 5 (UPI) -- Russian reserve fighters have been deployed to a Ukrainian stronghold armed with firearms and shovels, the British Defence Ministry said Sunday.

The British Defense Ministry, which has provided daily intelligence updates throughout the war, tweeted early Sunday that the Russian recruits are armed with MPL-50 entrenching tools, a small, sharp spade is bladed and can be used in place of a hammer or ax.


These tools are likely being used for hand-to-hand combat and have been in use since at least late February, British officials said.

"One of the reservists described being 'neither physically nor psychologically' prepared for the action," the British Defense Ministry tweeted.

The crude choice of weapon demonstrates the lengths Russia's military is willing to go to as it continues its invasion of Ukraine, as well as the level of brutality that could be taking place on the battlefield. The ministry said a shortage of ammunition may also be the cause of arming soldiers with shovels.

Fighting in the Donetsk city of Bakhmut has intensified as Ukraine continues to resist losing the city to Russia. On Saturday the British military said Russia had Bakhmut surrounded on three sides and a key bridge on a Ukrainian supply route has been destroyed.


The battle continues in the streets of Bakhmut. According to BBC, Russia has not yet gained control of the city.

Ukrainian defense officials reportedly believe Russia has lost soldiers at a seven-to-one ratio attempting to take the city. Yet Russia continues to apply pressure and Ukrainian officials are feeling it.

Volodymyr Nazarenko, a commander in the Ukrainian military, said Bakhmut is "hell" in an interview with Kyiv 24, reported by The Guardian.

Nazarenko assured that the frontline of Ukraine's defenses remain strong, keeping the Russian advance at bay on the outskirts of the city.

Experts continue to predict a Ukrainian withdrawal from Bakhmut, but Gen. Lord Richard Dannatt, a former top British military official, said the city has withstood the Russian attack so well that it may make sense to fall back to a stronger defensive position. Dannatt called it "the anvil on which so many Russian lives have been broken," according to CNN.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian military officials have told CNN that no tactical changes have been made.

War in Ukraine: a look back at the year after Russian invasion

Ukrainian demonstrators rally in Kyiv on February 12, 2022 to show unity amid U.S. warnings of an imminent Russian invasion. Photo by Oleksandr Khomenko/UPI | License Photo

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