Putin's conscripts 'forced to fight with shovels'
Russian soldiers are likely fighting with shovels in "hand-to-hand" combat against Ukrainian forces amid an ammunition shortage, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.
During an assault on a Ukrainian stronghold late last month, Russian reservist troops were equipped with only "firearms and shovels", the MoD said in an update on Sunday.
It said the shovel was an MPL-50 – an implement designed in 1869 that has changed little since.
READ MORE: Civilians flee embattled city as Ukrainian pullout looms
The MoD said it "highlights the brutal and low-tech fighting" that has characterised much of the conflict.
One of the reservists described being "neither physically nor psychologically" prepared for combat, the update said.
"Recent evidence suggests an increase in close combat in Ukraine," it said.
"This is probably a result of the Russian command continuing to insist on offensive action largely consisting of dismounted infantry, with less support from artillery fire because Russia is short of munitions."
The MoD did not provide about where the battles involving shovels took place.
A dire lack of ammunition for Russian units has been highlighted by Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Russian mercenary force Wagner Group.
Last month Prigozhin posted a picture on Telegram showing the bodies of several dozen slain Wagner fighters, piled unceremoniously in a courtyard.
Alongside that shocking photo, he posted the image of a formal request from Wagner for more ammunition, pointing the finger of blame squarely at the Russian Ministry of Defence for squandering one of those lives.
READ MORE: Russia could run out of money by 2024, says Oligarch
In other news, pressure from Russian forces have mounted on Ukrainians defending Bakhmut, as residents attempted to flee with help from troops who Western analysts say may be preparing to withdraw from the key eastern stronghold.
Bakhmut has for months been a prime target of Moscow's grinding eastern offensive in the war, with Russian troops, including forces from the private Wagner Group, inching ever closer.
– Reported with Associated Press
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