Mutinies, sabotage, and mass disaffection: anti-war resistance in Russia escalates

Vladimir Putin
Support us and go ad-free

Russia is seeing an escalation in disaffected citizens, many of whom are fleeing the country to avoid conscription. This follows the mobilisation of around 300,000 military reserves, as well as referendums in the Russian occupied regions of Ukraine. There have also been incidents of mutinies, attacks on army recruitment offices, and sabotage – not all reported by corporate media.

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, is threatening nuclear attack should the occupied regions be attacked by the Ukrainian military.


There are reports of more than 3,000 mostly young men fleeing Russia via the border with Mongolia. Other destinations include Belarus, Armenia and Georgia. However, Lithuanian foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis urged Russians fleeing their country to stay and fight against Putin and to liberate Russia. But president of the European Council Charles Michel asks that European countries offer refuge to those fleeing conscription. There is now a proposed law in Russia that would see deserters jailed for up to 10 years.

This disaffection is not a recent phenomena. In May the Anarchist Communist Group (ACG) claimed that:

More than 300,000 people have now left Russia because of the repression, refusal to support the war or be conscripted into the armed forces.

Further, there are reports of women in the Dagestan and Yakutia regions staging protests against the war.

Attacks on military targets

There are also several reports of attacks by disaffected citizens on military targets.

Read on...

On 22 September CrimethInc tweeted news of Molotov cocktail attacks on military recruitment offices by anarchists:

Also on 22 September the Daily Mirror reported that in the city of Ust-Ilimsk a man fired a gun at local military recruiter Aleksandr Yeliseyev. According to Anton Gerashchenko, advisor to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, the officer died:

Months of attacks

The attacks on Russian military targets have been happening over many months.

Novayagazeta reports:

According to Mediazona’s calculations, 54 military enlistment offices and administrative buildings have been set on fire since the start of the war, 17 of these cases happened in the last five days after the announcement of the “partial” mobilisation.

In particular, a military enlistment office caught fire in Mordovia’s town of Ruzaevka after two Molotov cocktails had been thrown in through the window on 25 September. On the same day, it was reported that an administrative building caught fire under the town of Gatchina in the Saint Petersburg region after two Molotov cocktail bottles had been thrown into the building. The area of fire was 50 square metres, no one was hurt.

Back in April The Moscow Times (TMT) reported that local residents used Molotov cocktails to cause damage to enlistment offices in the Ivanovo, Voronezh, and Sverdlovsk regions. Also an enlistment office in the regional town of Lukhovitsy was set on fire.

In May TMT also reported that seven Molotovs were thrown through a window of a military recruitment office in Nizhnevartovsk.


There have been further acts of sabotage. Earlier in the year there were reports of sabotage by BOAK (Combat Organisation of Anarcho-Communists) to railway lines north-east of Moscow. There were other actions by the group: again on a railway line, as well as an attack on a mobile phone tower in Belgorod. BOAK are inspired by the New Revolutionary Alternative (NRA), which in the late 1990s bombed military targets.

On 22 September CrimethInc published an interview with BOAK (also known as the Anarcho-Communist Combat Organisation). A representative of the organisation explained they consider themselves:

to be the successors of the Revolutionary Insurgent Army of Ukraine (RPAU) [the forces associated with Nestor Makhno, also known as the Black Army] and the anarchists of the underground who, during the [Russian] Civil War, opposed the reactionary and Bolshevik dictatorship with arms in their hands.


A report by the ACG provided examples of some of the many mutinies that have taken place since the Russian invasion of Ukraine:

Sixty paratroopers from Pskov sent to Belarus as part of the invasion force refused to fight in Ukraine and mutinied, after which they were sent back to Russia. Some have been dismissed whilst others face court martials with the chance of prison sentences. There were also reports of mutinies in elite forces in Khakassia in the Caucasus. Also in the Caucasus, troops from South Ossetia, the unofficial Putin-backed breakaway from Georgia, refused to fight in the Ukraine.

In March, it was reported by the Guardian that mutinous troops ran over a colonel of the 37th separate guards motor rifle brigade by a tank. The claim was made by Ukrainian journalist, Roman Tsymbaliuk, who said that the brigade had lost around about 50% of their personnel in fighting west of Kyiv.

In June a former US special forces officer reported claims of an incident where Russian troops refused to obey orders. During the same incident it was claimed that a Russian general, Valeriy Solodchuk, commander of the 36th Army, was nearly blown up amidst an exchange of words.

Protests continue

In February the Canary reported on mass protests in Russian cities by people opposed to the war on Ukraine. They included St Petersburg, Moscow, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Nizhny Novgorod, Kaliningrad, and Volgograd.

The May ACG report included many examples of protests across Russia in the days and weeks following the invasion. For example, “between 24th and 28th of February, more than 6,440 people were arrested at anti-war actions”. Also, “In the first month of the anti-war protests, a total of 15,000 people were arrested”.

Now with mobilisation announced by Putin and the threat of military call-up of citizens, the protests have returned, as these videos show:


BOAK has warned in no uncertain terms what would happen should Russia be allowed to win in its war against Ukraine – but also of very different consequence if it fails:

The defeat of Ukraine will bring about the triumph of the most reactionary forces in Russia—finalizing its transformation into a neo-Stalinist concentration camp, with unlimited power concentrated in the FSB [the Federal Security Service, successor to the KGB] and a totalitarian Orthodox imperial ideology… On the other hand, if Russia is defeated, there will inevitably be a crisis for Putin’s power and a prospect of revolution. For anarchists, the choice between these alternatives seems clear.

These are dangerous times. Though the disaffections, mutinies and sabotage incidents, as well as the continuing protests (despite threat of arrests) are encouraging. They indicate a resistance, which extends over months and possibly far longer.

That resistance seeks a real revolution from the authoritarian tyranny that still persists from the Soviet era.

Featured image via Pixabay/Dimitro Sevastopol

We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support

The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.

The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.

So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.

Support us
  • Show Comments
    1. It is worthwhile to speculate on what would happen in the UK were there to be even small acts of sabotage and mutinies in the military during a war. Despite the public outrage over the UK’s catastrophic invasion and occupation of Iraq from 2003 onwards, few if any were prepared to break laws. Strange that Russians are showing much less reluctance over this war.

      Our military leaders, politicians and corporate media have repeatedly lusted after the maximum escalation of this war, ramping up the pressure on President Putin in the hope that he will be deposed and Russia will collapse so that the Western ruling class can control it.

      WSWS reports: “New York Times columnist Ross Douthat mused that “Kyiv might be willing to accept an unusual degree of nuclear risk, even absorb a nuclear strike, for the sake of its own territorial integrity. In a battle for their very freedom, the Ukrainians … want their children to look back and say that in the greatest crisis, the blood of their fathers ran strong.”

      Always someone else’s children to be sacrificed on the altar of Western hegemony.

    2. You must be a FSB Russian troll. I don’t remember the 2003 protesters being thrown in jail by the thousands.
      Why don’t you move to Russia where you can lend your full support to a regime that rapes and murders women, children and civilians.

      1. I’m not sure if your comment is a reply to mine, but if it is, my point is that in the UK, the antiwar movement during the UK’s slaughter of Iraqi men, women and children was timid, non-violent, peaceful and utterly ineffective. How does that correlate with your accusation to this British socialist of being Russian? I made no comment supporting Putin’s government or its decision to invade Ukraine.

        1. My point is that you say this is a war the west wanted and the clear implication is that you are sympathetic to “President Putin” as you call him. No doubt you would have referred to Hitler as “Fuhrer”.

          1. Your deduction is well off target, but ss Vladimir Putin not the President of the Russian Federation? My view of him and his reactionary, nationalist policies is shaped by my socialism and my wish to see the international working class cast aside its national divisions and overthrow their exploiters who are led by such as Putin, Biden and Liz Truss. Putin uses fantasies of national chauvinism, not of solidarity between nations. He regards the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 as a disaster, a view shared by the US and UK at the time which responded by invading Russia.

    3. As for the west trying to destroy Russia, far from it. The west was far too weak in its response to the illegal annexation of crimea in 2014. The west subsequently allowed Russia to host the World Cup, the Winter Olympics
      , Germany developed nord stream 2 and London was awash with Russian trade and investors such as Abramovich. Putin thought tge west would roll over again and allow Ukraine to fall. How wrong he will be a long hard road ahead but like in 1939 against Hitler it is the only road to take whatever the costs will be.

    4. Russia has always been a strong bed of Anarchism, as you would expect from a highly literate culture with Tolstoy and Kropotkin as literary genuises, and a weak central state.

      As much as I can understand their reluctance to go to “war”, they may benefit from learning from History.

      If the Soviets had lost to the Nazis, they would ALL have been exterminated. And if Russia loses this conflict as well, the exact same future is planned. If you doubt that, just read up on CIA connections to Banderists since WW2, and what their aims and plans are.

      So they don’t like Putin. If would be an odd Anarchist who does like right-wing authoritarians FOR BEING rightwing Authoritarians. At the same time, that dickwad is the only thing preventing their lives from getting IMMEASURABLY worse.

      This war was planned a long time, and very carefully. No, OBVIOUSLY not by Russia, who have fucked up on Day One. By the USA, CIA, and Pentagon “Planners”.

      The end result if the NATO/USA wins is a dismembering, and ethnic-cleansing of the Russian lands.

      If Russia wins, …. Russia CANNOT “win”. Because the USA – the REAL opponent – will refuse to “lose”. So that is moot.

      In short, Russia is now in a war for survival, sure as hell not just “Putin” no matter what the western corporate media try to make you believe. The Ukrianian NAZIS are very very very REAL. The reason why western corporate media doesn’t mention them – outright DENIES them? Because the Ukrainian Nazis are the real plan all along.

      Got to keep the hoi p dmb and down.

      It’s sad to see supposed “Anarchists” falling for Hollywood BS.

      Of COURSE, rather needless to say, many of those “Anarchist” groups, just like in the US during Trump’s term, are absolutely nothing of the kind, and are just front groups for the CIA/DNC.

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.