Morale: Drones Drive Russian Soldiers to Suicide


June 13, 2024: The war in Ukraine has revealed many long forgotten aspects of World War II, especially the fatalistic attitudes of Russian infantry. They face death without much emotion, accepting it as a natural part of their lives. Those who do not accept this fate will often commit suicide. In contrast, Ukrainian troops, nearly all of them born after Ukraine left the Soviet Union in 1991, have abandoned these Russian traditions. So have a growing number of Russians and the only way to avoid military service is to leave the country. This is what over a million each Russian and Ukrainian military age males have done since Ukraine was invaded in early 2022. There are enough old school Russian soldiers to make large scale infantry attacks possible. Ukrainian soldiers are perplexed as Russian forces keep attacking strong Ukrainian defenses despite heavy losses. The Ukrainians watch as subsequent attacks involve Russians climbing over the dead bodies of Russians killed in earlier attacks. The Ukrainians consider this suicidal; the Russians consider it their traditional tactics that resulted in victory the last major war, which was World War II.

Since World War II Russia has depended on conscription to keep the army up to strength, Even during peacetime life was dangerous for conscripts over a thousand dead each year from suicide. What this comes down to is life is considerably shorter for Russian men in peacetime and that gets worse in wartime. Currently the average lifespan of Russian males is 64, compared to 73 in the United States and a year or two longer in Western European countries.

Heavy wartime losses are a Russian tradition. During World War II, Russia lost 27 million people. Over half the deaths were military, at least six million were civilians murdered or deliberately starved to death by the Germans, and the rest were civilians caught in the middle of the fighting. So many men were lost that for decades after the war Westerners visiting Russia noted that women were doing a lot of the jobs performed by men in the west. Russia had fewer working age men after the war than western nations. So many women could not find husbands that government officials encouraged these women to get pregnant any way they could, including sexual relationships with married men. Russia needed to replace the heavy wartime losses, but never managed to do so before, or after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

In Ukraine the heavy use of UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) or drones has terrified soldiers on both sides. Russians are getting the worst of it because the Ukrainians are building and using a lot more and better drones. Ukraine developed USVs (Unmanned Surface Vessels) that damaged or destroyed nearly half the Russian Black Sea Fleet and drove the surviving warships to distant ports where the Russians could no longer threaten Ukrainian maritime traffic that exported Ukrainian foodstuffs and imported commercial and military goods.

On land the Ukrainian use of drones was so intense that droves carrying video cameras often spotted Russian soldiers committing suicide rather than waiting Ukrainian drones to find and kill them. Ukrainian soldiers on the ground sometimes had opportunities to take cellphone photos of Russian soldiers committing suicide or finding bodies of Russian troops who had obviously killed themselves. Ukrainian drones are an obvious cause of Russian suicides but the war in general has seen a substantial number of Russian soldiers choosing suicide over continued combat with the Ukrainians.




Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   Contribute   Close