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UK intel: Railway sabotage challenges Russian military’s supply chain logistics

Anti-war activists’ persistent railway sabotage in Russia poses a challenge for authorities and impacts military logistics, with over 76 cases reaching court and 137 young individuals prosecuted by October 2023, as per UK intelligence.
Russian Army’s BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launchers transferred by a military train from the Russian Far East to the west. Bashkiria, Russia, 2022. Screenshot: RFE/RL
UK intel: Railway sabotage challenges Russian military’s supply chain logistics

Persistent railway sabotage in Russia challenges authorities and affects military logistics during the ‘Special Military Operation,’ leading to legal actions against 137 young individuals, the British Defense Ministry says in its intelligence update posted on 8 November.

The ministry tweeted:

  • Seventeen months after the first incidents were reported, sabotage of Russian railways by anti-war activists continues to represent a significant challenge for the Russian authorities. Research by independent Russian media outlet Mediazona suggests that, as of October 2023, 76 cases of railway sabotage had reached court since the invasion. At least 137 people, with the vast majority aged under 24, had been prosecuted.
  • Since early 2023, notices have been stencilled on key pieces of railway infrastructure pointing out that, under the Russian Criminal Code, sabotage can be punished with up to life imprisonment. Russia’s military logistics, including supplying the war in Ukraine, remain reliant on the country’s 33,000km of railway line.
  • With virtually all methods of overt dissent banned in Russia, sabotage continues to appeal to a minority of young people as a method of protest against the ‘Special Military Operation’.

Russian military logistics, crucial for the Russian Armed Forces, heavily rely on rail transportation, which serves as the primary means for troop and heavy weapon movement. Russia even maintains a dedicated branch, known as the railway troops, to support this logistics network.

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