A Russian nationalist has spoken out about the International Army Games that have been taking place in his country, along with military parades, while they are at war with Ukraine.
The annual military sports event – which first took place in 2015 – is organised by the Russian Ministry of Defence and involves around 40 countries who take part in various competitions and manoeuvres, and has been referred to as the ‘War Olympics’.
Events such as tank biathlon, aviadarts (which involve flight crews), troop intelligence and Suvorov Attack, a contest between crews of combat vehicles, are among the highlights of the two-week tournament.
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Last year, 277 teams from 42 nations participated – with more than 5,000 military personnel taking part – with Russia coming out on top as usual, while a similar number competed this time around, in a competition that was co-hosted by 12 countries.
But a former FSB officer and minister in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic has spoken out against the Games, calling them inappropriate while Russia is at war with Ukraine.
Hard-liner Igor Girkin has admitted he has admired how Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy has conducted himself during the conflict, which is in stark contrast, he says, to Russia, where “at the end of the sixth month of the war… we play tank biathlons and hold festivals of military bands.”
The tank biathlon was the finale of the tournament and took place near Moscow.
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The UK’s Ministry of Defence, meanwhile, put out an intelligence update and said of the Army Games: “A significant proportion of Russia’s military and security professionals probably believe that it is inappropriate to continue committing forces to peace-time military ceremonial events while Russian troops continue to suffer heavy casualties in Ukraine.”
Their statement received a few responses, with one person Twitter writing: “After seeing some of the highlights of the biathlon, it doesn’t look like any of the countries sent their best, so I don’t think they would have been any help fighting a war.”
But another social media commentator added: “As a reminder, Russian/LDNR units are using obsolete T-62M tanks and other older models they pulled out of storage in Ukraine while more modern T-72B3M tanks are being used in a tournament for foreign crews who don't know how to use them properly.”
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