- More than 100 members of Russia’s Rosgvardia were fired for disobeying orders to fight in Ukraine.
- They filed a collective lawsuit to challenge their dismissal as illegal, but it was rejected.
- Their lawyer said they had been given a choice by their commanders not to fight, per The Guardian.
More than 100 soldiers of Russia’s national guard have been sacked for disobeying orders to fight in Ukraine, according to multiple media reports.
The 115 national guardsmen were part of the Rosgvardia, a force separate from the military that is often used by the Kremlin as an internal security force against terrorism and to quash dissent, The Guardian reported.
The dismissal of the 115 guardsmen surfaced on May 25 after a Russian military court rejected their lawsuit to challenge their termination. In a decision posted online last week, the judge ruled the soldiers had been rightfully fired.
The soldiers were “refusing to perform an official assignment” and had returned to a duty station instead of carrying out their orders in Ukraine, the court said, according to The Guardian.
Russia conducted the hearing behind closed doors to prevent “military secrets” from leaking, independent local outlet The Moscow Times reported.
Andrei Sabinin, the lawyer representing the 115 soldiers, told The Guardian that the national guardsmen weren’t allowed to call up certain witnesses and had documents rejected by the court.
He also said that the men had been given a choice by their Rosgvardia commanders not to fight, making their sacking illegal.
This isn’t the first time that members of the Rosgvardia have been punished for refusing to join the war in Ukraine. In a separate case in March, 12 national guardsmen were fired for the same reason.
According to Reuters, the 12 men said they didn’t have passports and were afraid they would have to do something illegal in Ukraine.
The Rosgvardia has often been called President Vladimir Putin’s “private army” because they were created in 2016 to serve the Russian leader as something akin to the ancient Roman empire’s Praetorian Guard.
That year, The Moscow Times reported that their numbers had reached up to 340,000 across 84 units, citing National Guard leader Viktor Zolotov’s claims. The force has been used before to enforce COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
The national guardsmen’s refusal to fight fits a consistent pattern of reports that Russian troops have been running low on morale since the initial weeks of the war in Ukraine. Some Russian soldiers reportedly didn’t know they would be fighting in Ukraine or why Russia had invaded Ukraine, according to their families and footage from Ukraine.