Russia likely has begun deploying units intended to block the military's own forces if they try to retreat from Ukraine during the ongoing invasion, according to the British Ministry of Defence.
In an intelligence update, the ministry notes that "due to low morale and reluctance to fight, Russian forces have probably started deploying 'barrier troops' or 'blocking units.' These units threaten to shoot their own retreating soldiers in order to compel offensives and have been used in previous conflicts by Russian forces."
The report adds: "Recently, Russian generals likely wanted their commanders to use weapons against deserters, including possibly authorizing shooting to kill such defaulters after a warning had been given. Generals also likely wanted to maintain defensive positions to the death."
In September, The New York Times reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin had denied a military request to retreat from the city of Kherson, which was being approached by Ukrainian forces. That month, Russia's State Duma passed legislation that doubled the jail sentence for deserters.
The UK intelligence report notes that "the tactic of shooting deserters likely attests to the low quality, low morale and indiscipline of Russian forces."
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