Ukrainian military intelligence has reported that Russian commanders at the front have enacted “order No. 222”, which allows opening fire on those who abandon their battlefield position.
It authorizes “blocking units” (also “barrier troops” and “anti-retreat forces”) to treat their own soldiers as the enemy. It echoes Stalin’s wartime order “No. 227” that was widely known as “Not a step back”.
This concept first arose in 1918, during the Russian Civil War, when War Commissar Leon Trotsky ordered unreliable Red Army frontline troops to be shot by blocking detachments if deserting or retreating without permission.
Trotsky followed this by ordering all infantry formations be accompanied with “blocking units”. Personnel was to be drawn from the Cheka (forerunner of the KGB) and regular Red Army infantry units.
The concept was once again applied during WWII. Within six months after Germany attacked the Soviets in June 1941, the Germans had practically destroyed the pre-war Red Army.
By September 1942, Germany had entered Kaliningrad, about 1000 miles into Russia. The brutal effectiveness of Order No. 227 was probably a game-changer here. ...
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