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ives of Russian soldiers are appealing to them to be returned home, according to a video highlighted by British defence chiefs on Monday.

Troops of the 5th Separate Guards Tank Brigade, part of the Eastern Military District in Russia, were said to be “mentally and physically” exhausted from their role in the invasion of Ukraine which started nearly five months ago.

The British military chiefs stressed that the lack of “scheduled breaks” from intense fighting for Russian forces was a major issue facing Vladimir Putin’s army.

However, they did not comment on the difficulties facing Ukrainian troops which have suffered a series of defeats in the Luhansk province of the eastern Donbas region where the Russian president is focusing his military campaign.

In its latest intelligence update, the Ministry of Defence in London said: “In late June, a Russian-language media agency based in Russia’s far eastern Lake Baikal region uploaded a video in which the wives of soldiers from the Eastern Military District’s (EMD’s) 36th Combined Arms Army directly appealed to a local politician for their husbands to be returned home from service in Ukraine.

“One woman claimed that personnel of EMD’s 5th Separate Guards Tank Brigade are ‘mentally and physically’ exhausted,’ because they have been on active combat duty since the launch of the ‘special military operaton’ on 24 February 2022.

“The lack of scheduled breaks from intense combat conditions is highly likely one of the most damaging of the many personnel issues the Russian MoD is struggling to rectify amongs the deployed forces.”

The briefing added: “As of Sunday 10 July, artillery bombardments continued in the northern Donbas sector, but probably without any major territorial advances.

“Ukrainian forces continued to apply localised pressure to the Russian defensive line in North East Kherson oblast (province), also probably without achieving territorial gains.”

The US-based military think tank, the Institute for The Study of War (ISW) said that Russian forces are in the middle of a theatre-wide operational pause in Ukraine.

It added: “This operational pause has been largely characterized by Russian troops regrouping to rest, refit, and reconstitute; heavy artillery fire in critical areas to set conditions for future ground advances; and limited probing attacks to identify Ukrainian weakness and structure appropriate tactical responses.

“As ISW has previously noted, an operational pause does not mean a complete cessation of hostilities, rather that ongoing hostilities are more preparative in nature.”

Defence chiefs in Britain, the US and other allied countries are fighting an information war against Russia, which is a key part of the conflict in Ukraine, so their claims need to be treated in that context.

However, Russian claims need to be treated with huge caution given that the Kremlin does not even accept that there is a war going on in Ukraine and its denials of war crimes and killing thousands of civilians are at odds with widespread reports from the conflict zone.

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