In a concerning development, Russia’s military is grappling with a significant mental health crisis. More than 100,000 Russian soldiers are reportedly unfit for combat due to mental health issues, posing a major challenge for President Vladimir Putin.
The UK Ministry of Defence has shared intelligence suggesting that Russian military psychologists identified a substantial number of soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and combat-related stress back in December 2022. This crisis among rank-and-file troops has been exacerbated by the failure of commanders to rotate frontline soldiers, preventing them from recovering adequately.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Defence reports that in some instances, Russian medical personnel are sending soldiers who are physically and mentally unfit for combat to the frontlines. This situation presents a significant problem for the overall effectiveness of Russia’s military.
According to the Ministry of Defence’s intelligence update, “The Russian military is facing a mental health crisis. In December 2022, Russian psychologists identified approximately 100,000 military personnel suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This number is almost certainly now higher, as the Russian military fails to provide sufficient rotation and recuperation from the battlefield.”
This issue was raised by several commanders, including General-Major Ivan Popov, the former commander of the 58th Combined Arms Army, who was relieved of his command in July 2023 due to these concerns.
The report also highlights that there has been a surge in appeals against Russian military medical commissions in 2023 compared to the previous year, with many cases being denied or abandoned. This indicates a lack of adequate care for the mental health and fitness of Russian soldiers, which, in turn, affects their combat readiness, leading to sub-optimal military effectiveness.
These revelations come as Russia initiates a series of small-scale offensives in an apparent attempt to disrupt Ukraine’s ongoing four-month-long counter-offensive. Ukraine has reported renewed Russian efforts to capture the city of Kupiansk in the northeast and intensified attacks on Ukrainian positions around Avdiivka in the east.
The mental health crisis within the Russian military poses a significant challenge for Vladimir Putin’s armed forces and may impact the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.