Retired Russian General slams military over shoddy uniforms for Ukraine troops

Shamanov, who currently serves as deputy chair of the Defence Committee in Russia’s Lower House of Parliament, aired his grievances in an address to the State Duma.

A retired high-ranking general has lambasted the Defence Ministry for providing Russian troops deployed in Ukraine with substandard uniforms and equipment. The criticism from Vladimir Shamanov, a former commander of the country’s elite Airborne Forces, represents an extraordinary breach of discipline within Moscow’s typically lockstep military ranks.

Shamanov, who currently serves as deputy chair of the Defence Committee in Russia’s Lower House of Parliament, aired his grievances in an address to the State Duma. According to Russian publication RBC, he accused the Defence Ministry of failing to properly outfit soldiers taking part in what the Kremlin officially terms its special military operation in Ukraine.

Public criticism of Russia’s conduct of the Ukraine campaign from within the government or military ranks is exceedingly rare. In March 2022, a new law imposed prison sentences of up to 15 years for those who intentionally spread fake information about Russia’s armed forces. This legislation has been wielded as a crackdown against any narratives deviating from the Kremlin’s portrayal of the invasion as a special operation.

That Shamanov, an experienced veteran with close ties to the military’s upper echelons, felt emboldened to voice such blunt reproach highlights the simmering unease over the protracted conflict and its mounting costs. His remarks pierced the veil of total solidarity typically expected from Russia’s leadership class.

The Kremlin has sought to project an image of total control and widespread public support for the campaign amid heavy battlefield losses. However, Shamanov’s unexpected outburst threatens to undermine that narrative and hint at growing behind-the-scenes turmoil.

Oleg Gordievsky, a former KGB colonel who defected to Britain, described the general’s dressing down as something coming from within Russia’s typically conscripted military elite.

The extent of discontent within the ranks remains difficult to gauge. Families of soldiers killed or captured in Ukraine have sporadically voiced anger at commanders, only to swiftly remove online posts or be silenced. And in December, former Russian rebel leader Igor Girkin was briefly detained for accusing Russian military leaders of monumental absurdity over their tactics in Ukraine.

Thus far, the Kremlin has showed no signs of heeding the harsh assessments, maintaining its insistence that Russia’s forces are making steady progress in achieving their objectives. Yet voices like Shamanov’s underscore the deepening challenges facing Putin’s military machine as the Ukraine invasion drags into its second year.