NEW DELHI: In the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, a new “Siberian Battalion” has been established, composed of Russian nationals who have defected from Vladimir Putin’s army, reports Daily Star.Since the initial invasion of Ukraine nearly two years ago, reports of Russian soldiers refusing to fight, being coerced into combat, or even imprisoned for their dissent have surfaced.However, a significant number of such individuals have now expressed their desire to join the fight alongside Ukrainian forces.This newly formed Siberian Battalion reportedly have prominent members, including Alexei Makarov, formerly associated with the National Bolshevik political party, and well-known anti-Kremlin Russian activist Ildar Dadin, as reported by AFP. One of the fighters, known by the call sign “Grecha,” explained his motivation, saying, “I took the decision to get into Ukraine as soon as possible to fight against Russia, against the Putin regime, against imperialism. We need to free Ukraine, the motherland where I was born in Crimea; that’s my dream.”He continued, “In Russia at the moment, there is a dictatorship which, of course, I am extremely unhappy about. Sooner or later, it will be one big concentration camp, basically, it already is.”While the exact location and impact of the Siberian Battalion remain undisclosed at this time, their presence could further complicate matters for Putin’s forces. Just this week, it was revealed that the Russian army has suffered significant losses, with estimates approaching 290,000 casualties. Russia’s deputy labour minister, Alexei Vovchenko, confirmed that around 54% of those injured have lost limbs due to the conflict, referring to this as a “vivid problem.”However, figures regarding casualties vary significantly between sources. Ukraine’s officials claim these numbers, while Russia has not officially confirmed its losses. In a contrasting estimate, some sources suggest 190,000 losses or injuries in total. Nonetheless, none of these figures has been officially confirmed, with Kremlin officials remaining tight-lipped about the details. In July, an alternative estimate surfaced, indicating a potentially smaller number of casualties, with anti-Kremlin Russian media outlet Meduza partnering with Mediazone and Tubingen University to calculate that Russia has seen between 40,000 and 55,000 soldiers killed in battle.