Snipers kill 11 soldiers, injure 15 at training ground, Russia says

At least 11 people were killed and 15 injured in a shootout on Saturday at a military training base in Russia’s Belgorod region, which serves as a base for the war in Ukraine, the Russian Defense Ministry reported.

The ministry said the victims were volunteers “who expressed a desire to participate in a special operation”, a preferred Kremlin term for the war.

“Two citizens of one of the CIS countries committed a terrorist act at the training ground of the Western Military District in the Belgorod region,” state news agency Tass reported, citing the ministry’s reading. . The CIS is the Commonwealth of Independent States, a union of Russia, Belarus, Moldova and several Central Asian countries.

“The two terrorists were killed by return fire,” the statement said. It is unclear whether the gunmen were among the soldiers or had entered the training ground.

Baza, a law enforcement-linked Telegram channel, said the shooting happened on Saturday morning at the Valuysky district military training ground, about 15 km from the Ukrainian border.

The shooting comes amid a largely unpopular mobilization campaign that Russian President Vladimir Putin announced three weeks ago in hopes of replenishing the ranks of depleted and exhausted units and overturning the stagnating Russian war.

On Friday, Putin said 222,000 people had been called up and 33,000 had been deployed to military units for further combat missions. The Russian military has said it plans to recruit 300,000 new soldiers in total, although human rights groups have expressed concern that the actual number could be significantly higher.

The announcement of the partial mobilization sparked protests and a mass exodus of military-age men and their families, with hundreds of thousands fleeing Russia. Most have gone to neighboring Armenia, Georgia and Kazakhstan, the few destinations still available to Russian nationals after the European Union essentially closed its border with the country.

Putin has said all mobilized men must receive combat training before being sent to the front lines, but there have been a torrent of reports from lawyers, activists and human rights groups. that elderly, medically unfit, or otherwise exempt men were called up and sometimes sent into battle with little or no military experience.

Others said they had been forced to spend their own money to purchase protective equipment because their military units could not fully provide conscripts with adequate equipment.

Gunman attacks Russian military recruiter as thousands flee mobilization

The drive to help a signaling campaign in Ukraine was marked by at least one shooting at an enlistment office as well as violent altercations in military units that saw newly designated soldiers killed before they even arrive in the trenches.

At the end of September, only a few days after the announcement of the mobilization, Ruslan Zinine shot dead an enlistment officer in a small town in the Irkutsk region. Russian media reported that Zinin was in distress after losing a friend in Ukraine in March and his cousin received a call-up notice in September.

Russians rebel as Putin enlists more in battle for Ukraine

The chaos of the mobilization effort has drawn criticism from pro-Kremlin state television propagandists and military bloggers who have large followings. Under pressure, regional authorities admitted some errors, blaming them mainly on outdated enrollment offices and databases. Speaking on Friday, Putin said the “quality of the mobilization effort” needs to be improved.

Some recently mobilized soldiers have already died in Ukraine. The first official recognition came from the Chelyabinsk region near the Ural Mountains, where the governor’s office said in a statement that five residents had been killed in action.

On Thursday, a journalist from the RT network – whose editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan defended the invasion of Ukraine – wrote that a friend, a 28-year-old Moscow government official, Alexey Martynov, died in Ukraine two weeks after receiving the summons.

“He was mobilized on September 23. … No combat experience,” journalist Natalya Loseva wrote in a Telegram post. “He was sent to the front a few days later and died heroically on October 10.”

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