Russia is drafting soldiers with 'serious, chronic health conditions' to fight in Ukraine: UK intel

Russia is drafting soldiers with 'serious, chronic health conditions' to fight in Ukraine: UK intel
A military cadet stands in front of a billboard promoting contract army service in Saint Petersburg on October 5, 2022.OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP via Getty Images
  • Russia is drafting fighters with chronic health problems to fight in Ukraine, UK intelligence said.
  • It said they were being thrown into combat with poor equipment and little training.

Reservists mobilized by the Russian military are being sent to fight in Ukraine despite having "serious, chronic health conditions," the UK's Ministry of Defence (MOD) said.

In an intelligence update Thursday, the ministry addressed the mobilization of reservists by the Russian military in its invasion of Ukraine.

It said the process was chaotic, with poorly equipped soldiers, sometimes in ill health, sustaining high casualties.

"Their deployment is often characterised by confusion over eligibility for service, inadequate training and personal equipment, and commitment to highly attritional combat missions," it said.

"Numerous examples suggest that reservists are highly likely not having their medical status adequately reviewed and many are being compelled to serve with serious, chronic health conditions."


In the early days of the mobilization, reports abounded of unsuitable fighters being conscripted, including one man with diabetes and another, aged 17, who was too young to be eligible.

Russian President Vladimir Putin acknowledged that officials made "mistakes" in who they selected to go to war.

The update described particularly grim conditions in one area where Russia is under pressure from Ukraine.

"Mobilised reservists have highly likely experienced particularly heavy casualties after being committed to dig ambitious trench systems while under artillery fire around the Luhansk Oblast (province) town of Svatove," it said.

The assessment chimes with accounts in Russian media. Insider reported in early November on claims from soldiers' relatives that large numbers of men around Svatove had been killed by artillery fire in the same region, and that their commanders left them to dig trenches with their bare hands.


Russia ordered the mobilization of around 300,000 reservists in September, after its military suffered heavy casualties in its invasion of Ukraine. It declared the mobilization over in late October, saying it had conscripted enough fighters for now.

Reports have emerged of troops being sent into battle with poor equipment and hasty training as Russia seeks to contain Ukrainian advances. In recent weeks, Ukraine seized back control of the strategically vital tow of Kherson in southern Ukraine.

Both sides though have sustained heavy casualties. At a recent briefing Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said that both Russia and Ukraine had lost around 100,000 men in the conflict so far.