Hundreds of Russian troops refuse to invade Ukraine, lawyer says, as national guard group sues government



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Pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

  • A lawyer for Russian troops who was fired for refusing to go to Ukraine said nearly 1,000 others had contacted him.

  • “A lot of people don’t want to fight,” Mikhail Benyash told the Financial Times.

  • Multiple reports have outlined low morale among Russian troops.

A lawyer representing a group of Russian national guards who refused to participate in the invasion of Ukraine said hundreds of other soldiers and guards had contacted him seeking help to prevent the war.

Mikhail Benyash told the Financial Times that “a lot of people don’t want to fight” and that about 1,000 people had been in contact with him since his case representing the guards was made public.

He said he represents 12 national guards fired for refusing to go to Ukraine.

They were members of Rosgvardia, a fighting force separate from the military. They argued that this meant they should not be sent to Ukraine, the FT reported.

The men believed they would be doing something illegal if they went abroad as part of an armed group, Reuters reports. They also do not have a passport, Reuters reports.

They filed a wrongful dismissal charge against the government, Reuters and the FT reported.

Benyash said only three of those 12 guards went through with the lawsuit, Reuters and the FT reported. The other nine withdrew their claims because they were threatened, Benyash said, according to the FT.

The reports come as Ukrainian and Western officials described morale among Russian troops. On Thursday, the head of Britain’s GCHQ intelligence agency said Russian soldiers “refused to carry out orders, sabotaged their own equipment and even accidentally shot down their own plane”.

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