Russia largely continues to rely on specially designated Shtorm-Z units for local offensive operations in Ukraine. These company-sized groups were likely first fielded in 2022. There is a realistic possibility that russia originally envisioned them as relatively elite organizations which could seize the tactical initiative, the UK Defense Intelligence reports.
However, since at least spring 2023, Shtorm-Z units have effectively become penal battalions, manned with convicts and regular troops on disciplinary charges. Multiple accounts suggest the units are given the lowest priority for logistical and medical support, while repeatedly being ordered to attack.
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Russian troops have often conducted an effective defense. However, the existence of Shtorm-Z units highlights the extreme difficulty russia has in generating combat infantry capable of conducting effective offensive operations.