Anton Gerashchenko, advisor to the Ukrainian Minister of Internal Affairs, tweeted that newly conscripted Russian troops sent to fight in Ukraine are being issued rusty rifles and other outdated weapons in various states of disrepair. Russian state media claims they are only being used to train the men’s muscle memory; however, Gerashchenko firmly believes the newly enlisted conscripts will actually be bringing these junk rifles into battle.

This seems par for the course since, among the outdated small arms being deployed to field, the Russians have also deployed obsolete tanks like the WW2-era T-34 to the front.

Another WW2 relic, the Mosin Nagant (also known in Russia as the Three Line Rifle), was brought out of mothballs and issued to Donbass troops and Russian conscripts.

Russian conscripts in Ukraine with outdated Mosin Nagant rifles

The rifles, many of which are over twice the age of the conscripts who use them, are equipped with their original riflescopes. Their optics are state of the art – for 1941. These Soviet PU scopes were manufactured during the early years of the Soviet “Great Patriotic War” and are outclassed on every level by even the most basic scopes on today’s market.

Russian outdated weapons: PU scope with leather scope caps
Closeup of Soviet PU scope with hammer and sickle

The PU scope is a 3.5x21mm rifle sight, and like most Russian outdated weapons, has seen 80 years of continuous service in the Russian armed forces. The magnification of this World War II era scope is less powerful than even the weakest of modern LPVOs, and few hunters (in America, at least) would be comfortable using a magnification that low at an animal past 300 yards. However, in 1999, Russian snipers in Chechnya were pegging terrorists at 400 yards on average. Russian doctrine estimates the PU scope to be accurate to 800 meters (875 yards) when used with its 7.62x54mmR cartridge. Undoubtedly, this contrasts the differences between a well-trained marksman with a subpar optic versus even the most precise instrument used by an untrained eye.

Put side by side with a low-cost modern optic like the Firefield RapidStrike, the PU is beaten in every category. Unlike the PU, the RapidStrike not only has variable adjustment from 1x – 6x magnification, but it also has pop up locking turrets, a honeycomb lens filter and an illuminated reticle, something that comes standard with most modern optics which is completely absent from the PU. In addition, the RapidStrike is only $179.99 compared to the $300.00 price tag of a PU scope on the American market.

However, the Russian snipers stacking bodies in 1999 are not the same green conscripts being sent into Ukraine. Those men were selected sharpshooters from the MVD and FSB, the rough Russian equivalents to the FBI and CIA. In today’s Ukrainian conflict, many of the men being sent to the front receive no training at all, and thanks to the lack of gun culture in Russia, have very likely never fired a weapon in their lives. One draftee who spoke to Reuters about his experience said he was sent to fight in a mortar unit, but had only ever seen mortars in movies, having absolutely no idea how to operate one.

The horrible morale situation for new Russian troops is exacerbated by their lack of even the basic items like food, water, medicine and shelter. The men sometimes don’t see food for several days, and when rations are available, many of them come from old batches expired in 2015. Almost no logistics are devoted to water purification, and Russian soldiers are made to drink from fetid, tadpole-filled pond water. Grey-haired veterans with broken bodies, some of whom last saw action in the 80s of Afghanistan, have been called up to fight despite their physical ailments.

The Russians are clearly losing this war and everyone knows it. The last time the situation was this desperate was in World War II, particularly in the early stages of the war when Soviet commanders would send new recruits into battle unarmed and order them to pick up weapons from the dead. The difference between now and then is the Russian military is not fighting for the survival of their nation. Instead, thousands of scared and untrained, and poorly equipped men are being forced into a conflict they don’t understand and deserting by droves every day.

The wider world fears the closer Ukraine drives Putin’s Russia to total defeat, the more willing the Russian leader will be to launch tactical nukes, which could potentially trigger an international response and a new world war. Putin’s terrible logistics and refusal to end the war not only increase the likelihood of his defeat, but fan the flames of open rebellion within Russia, and the possibility of a second Russian civil war.

What do you think about these Russian outdated weapons? How will the situation in Ukraine end for the Russians and the wider world? Tell us in the comments below!

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