hunger games | 

Russian troops eating abandoned pet dogs as their rations dwindle

Pro-Russian troops are seen on an armoured vehicle on a road leading to the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine. Picture: Reuters

David Millward and Verity BowmanTelegraph Media Group Limited

Russian troops are eating abandoned pet dogs as they run out of poor-quality rations which have quickly dwindled among the badly trained conscripts sent to Ukraine.

In a 45-second call from a Russian soldier to his family, intercepted by Ukraine’s security service, Ukrainian commanders learned enemy troops were “sick” of the ready meals they have been given and that not many are left.

During the call the soldier was asked: “Are you eating OK at least?” He replied: “Not too bad. We had alabay [a breed of sheepdog ] yesterday. We wanted some meat.”

Soldiers have been given packs of rations commonly provided to troops in the field where food is unavailable. The packs have the advantage of long use-by dates and do not require refrigeration.

Earlier this week there were reports a massive effort had been undertaken to rescue abandoned cats and dogs that, it was feared, would be eaten by hungry Russian soldiers who have been accused of looting supermarkets and begging Ukrainians for food.

Earlier this month, a farmer living near Kherson, in the south of the country, said Russian soldiers had seized his produce, telling him they were “nationalising” it.

A video recording also showed a Ukrainian woman providing tea and a snack to a Russian soldier and passing him her mobile phone so he could call his mother.

Other transcripts of calls allegedly made by Russian troops saying they have run out of ammunition and fuel have laid bare their low morale.

Vladimir Putin is facing a growing backlash over his use of conscripts unprepared for the reality of the war on Ukraine.

Shellshocked soldiers have claimed they were sent over the border believing they were “saving” Ukrainians, only to be confronted by a brutal battle for territory.

The Russian Defence Ministry claims just 1,351 of its soldiers have been killed since the start of the invasion on Feb 24. According to Nato, at least 15,000 Russians have died.

Hundreds of funerals for service personnel are taking place nationwide.

Photos have emerged of the funeral of Alexei and Anton Vorobyov, 29-year-old twins who were killed on March 12, three weeks after the Russians invaded. They were buried in their home town on Tuesday.

Their coffins, draped in the Russian flag, were photographed as soldiers stood guard. Several hundred people attended their funeral in the city of Novocherkassk.

They served in the 150th Rifle Division, which reported heavy losses. They leave behind their partners, one of whom is expecting a child.

Putin is embroiled in a feud with his military leaders who, according to reports, misled him over the use of young soldiers in Mariupol, Kherson, and other war-torn cities.

On March 9, the defence ministry acknowledged that conscripts had been sent to Ukraine.

Putin had previously said only professional soldiers and officers were expected to fight. His spokesman said at the time that the president had ordered military prosecutors to investigate and punish those responsible for disobeying his orders.

However, yesterday he signed a decree conscripting 134,500 young people into the army as part of Russia’s annual spring draft. The defence ministry said the call-up was unrelated to the war.

One Russian mother whose son was killed fighting for his country in Ukraine last night said the war was justified. The woman, named as Natalya, told Deutsche Welle, the German broadcaster, that her son Yevgeny “died for us” and added Russia must “press on until we achieve victory”.

Her son, a 26-year-old staff sergeant, was killed in fighting at Hostomel airport, near Kyiv, on the first day of the war.

Natalya said the Russian army told Yevgeny he was being sent on a military exercise near the border with Belarus and defied new laws under which Russians face up to 15 years in jail for the “crime” of describing the “special operation” in Ukraine as a “war” or “invasion”.

“This is a proper war,” she said. “I am aware we are not supposed to call it that, but it is a war. It’s a bloodbath.”

However, she claimed her son had not died in vain.

“If we had not started bombing them, the Ukrainians would have bombed us. We had no choice.” (© Telegraph Media Group Ltd 2022)

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