Wealthiest Arctic region boosts support for infamous war battalion
The agreement between Governor Dmitry Artyukhov and the battalion commander comes after numerous complaints from relatives of local men fighting in Ukraine. According to reports, the battalion that includes a big number of men from the Yamal Nenets region is almost exterminated in the fighting with Ukrainian troops.
In a video approach, as well as in social media comments, wives and mothers of the soldiers say that the men are ill-treated, wounded and killed in big numbers and that the remains of the brigade are arbitrarily sent to the frontline. According to the women, their men are cannon fodder. And they do not trust the Army representatives that recently assured that conditions now have been improved.
“I would like to know what soldier said that he is content with the current situation. It is not true! Nobody there is content with the situation, and we, the wives of the fighters from this battalion, can testify that,” one woman says on social media VK.
“The wives are still not listened to. The frontline positions are being fortified by our men and every week there are losses. There is nothing left of the battalion. And nobody listens to us,” another woman underlines.
“Everything is lies […] There are men killed and there is a very big number of wounded. Everyone that can help is kept silent,” a third woman says.
The Rosomakha (Wolverine) Battalion includes men from the Russian north, and primarily the regions of Yamal-Nenets, Tyumen and Khanti-Mansiisk. According to reports, north Russian soldiers are included also in units Tobol, Taiga, Sibir, Irtysh, Yamal, Kedr, Bars and the 90th Sapper Regiment.
The complaints from relatives seem to have taken Governor Artyukhov off guard, and the young governor soon tried to take action.
In February, he first appointed Denis Sannikov a special representative for issues of the so-called “special military operation.” Sannikov, himself is a soldier with fighting experience both from Chechnya and Syria, was given the task to help improve relations with the soldiers’ families.
“Our task is to help the guys, boost their fighting spirit, [and] bring them news from their families and kinsmen,” Sannikov says in a comment.
Sannikov has reportedly been in Ukraine since the start of Russia’s full-scale onslaught.
In early June, Governor Artyukhov himself travelled to occupied Ukrainian lands to follow up the issue.
“I get many messages from relatives of our men fighting in this unit,” the governor admitted. “Often, decisions are taken that are beyond the authority of Yamal [but] we still do our best to look for solutions and this is done in cooperation with colleagues from the Donetsk People’s Republic (sic), where our battalion is based, and with the Ministry of Defence,” he explained. He also assured that foodstuff, equipment and military gear on a regular basis is sent to the region.
During the visit to the occupied territories, Artyukov met with “Aleksei”, the commander of the Rosomakha and the two men agreed about deliveries of military equipment. Among the items to be shipped to the battalion from Yamal is equipment for radio-electronic combat, drones, thermal cameras, night vision instruments and anti-drone weapons. The equipment will be provided by regional authorities and delivered via the regional Army Veteran Association, Governor Artyukhov confirms on Telegram.
The Yamal-Nenets region is one of Russia’s richest regions. A lion’s share of the country’s powerful natural gas production is made in the remote tundra areas of the region and huge wealth has benefited local authorities and the population.
Dmitry Artyukhov was in the occupied territories not only to deal with the issues of the Rosomakha Battalion. He and his region has also been commissioned to invest in reconstruction of Volnovakha, the town located in the southwestern part of the Donetsk region.
Volnovakha was comprehensively destroyed when Russian forces attacked in late February 2022. For two weeks, violent fighting raged before it fell to the occupying forces. On the 11th of March, Russia declared that it had full control over the town that previously had more than 20,000 inhabitants. Overwhelming parts of all buildings and infrastructure was damaged by war action.
In photos from the now occupied town, Governor Artyukhov is seen moving around in town and visiting the local hospital and a children’s cultural school. The Yamal-Nenets region is actively involved in the reconstruction of local housing, schools and other institutions, he said in an interview.
He also said that more than 1,500 local Ukrainian school kids will be sent to summer camps in Russia.
“I believe people will return to their homes and live better here than before,” he said.