Russia’s Response to Drug and Alcohol Abuse: Punishing Offenders with Frontline Service

Russia has resorted to a controversial method of punishing drug addicts and alcoholics by assigning them to Storm-Z assault detachments on the frontlines in Ukraine. These units are essentially penal units placed in the most dangerous positions, as reported by the U.K. Ministry of Defense in a tweet posted on X.

The lack of opportunity for combat troops to rotate away from the front line is identified as a key factor contributing to poor discipline and substance abuse within the Russian forces in Ukraine. Since the full-scale invasion by Moscow in February 2022, issues with poor discipline and substance abuse have persisted.

An investigative report by Meduza revealed alarming statistics, stating that one out of every 10 soldiers in Russia smokes marijuana, and many are also using hard drugs, according to the independent outlet Verstka. Additionally, synthetic drugs such as mephedrone are being sold by narcotics traffickers, with drug paraphernalia often found at destroyed positions.

A soldier interviewed by Meduza expressed frustration, saying, “No one here wants a commotion, drugs in the battalion are a stain on all of us. No one needs the prosecutor and Investigative Committee here. And there won’t be any trials. It’s easier to put them in confinement for two days and write up a document saying they’ll be transferred to Storm. They can’t say no.”

In the midst of these concerning developments, an appeal is made to support independent, locally-sourced news from Ukraine by considering supporting the Kyiv Independent.


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