.Russia says it will deploy musicians and singers to the front lines of its war in Ukraine to boost troops’ morale.
The defence ministry announced the formation of the “front-line creative brigade” this week, saying it would also include circus performers.
The UK’s Ministry of Defence highlighted the brigade’s creation in an intelligence update on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu visited frontline troops in Ukraine, Moscow said.
In a statement posted to Telegram, the defence ministry said Mr Shoigu “flew around the areas of deployment of troops and checked the advanced positions of Russian units in the zone of the special military operation”, referring to Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine launched on 24 February.
Ukraine and Russia to deploy musicians to front to boost morale
The ministry added that he “spoke with troops on the front line” and at a “command post” – but the BBC cannot confirm when the visit took place or whether Mr Shoigu visited Ukraine itself.
Commenting on Mr Shoigu’s reported visit, Ukraine’s military spokesman Serhiy Cherevatyi told Ukrainian TV channels: “I don’t really believe that he is so brave” to travel to the battlefield.
This comes as UK defence officials said low morale continues to be a “significant vulnerability across much of the Russian force”.
The UK said the new creative brigade – which follows a recent campaign, urging the public to donate musical instruments to troops – is in keeping with the historic use of “military music and organised entertainment” to boost morale.
But they questioned whether the new brigade would actually distract troops. Who have been primarily concerned about “very high casualty rates. poor leadership, pay problems, lack of equipment and ammunition, and lack of clarity about the war’s objectives”.
According to the Russian outlet RBC news, the brigade will consist of troops mobilised under President Vladimir Putin’s recruitment drive, as well as “professional artists who voluntarily entered military service”.
The new unit will be tasked with maintaining “a high moral, political and psychological state [among] the participants of the special military operation,” the outlet cited the defence ministry as saying.