Russia suffered heavy losses in the battle for Donbas

In the battle for a village in eastern Ukraine, a Russian unit suffered 300 casualties and injuries. Even some nationalist and Kremlin-loyal voices accuse the military leadership of mistakes and needlessly burning soldiers.

Debris from Russian armored vehicles testify to lost battles on all front lines.

Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters

Winter is approaching in Ukraine, but the fronts there are by no means frozen. The Russian military leadership has ordered offensives in various sectors for reasons that are partly obvious, partly confusing. For good reasons, the Russians are trying to establish better defensive positions in the north of Donbass. It is about securing an important supply route from Russia to Lisichansk in the Luhansk province. In October, it was threatened by a Ukrainian counter-offensive, but since then the Ukrainians have had to withdraw somewhat in places.

Frontal attacks with no apparent benefit

On the other hand, it seems strange that the paramilitary units of the Wagner Group in Donbass have been attacking the town of Bakhmut for weeks without success, despite the fact that the Ukrainians are well entrenched there. The procedure can only be explained by the fact that the loss of human life among the Wagner units, some of which consisted of convicts, is irrelevant to the Kremlin. The Russian offensive in the village of Pavlivka, 50 kilometers southwest of Donetsk, is equally cynical. This costly operation began in late October and lacks a clear strategic objective.

Territories occupied by Russia

Former separatist territory

Although Pavlivka is located at a significant crossroads, taking control of the city would not bring any significant advantage to the Russians. Since the Ukrainians hold the nearby town of Wuhledar, which is much higher, they can easily bombard the occupiers with artillery. This is exactly what is happening: new videos documenting the destruction of Russian armored vehicles appear on the Internet every day.

Russian eyewitness he expressed surprise about the precision of the Ukrainian artillery, which clearly surpasses the attackers. The fact that the Russians are paying an enormous price for the partial conquest of Pavlivka was shown by one angry person at the weekend the call of the soldiers participating unit, the 155th Marine Infantry Brigade from the Russian Pacific Province of Primorye. In four days, they lost 300 men who were either killed, wounded or disappeared, the authors wrote.

If this is the case, this brigade lost up to a fifth of its combat units in a very short time, depending on the number of soldiers. The 300 figure cannot be verified, but the Defense Ministry in Moscow felt compelled to deny it on Monday because of the uproar that ensued. The governor of Primorye province, who was approached in the call for troops, admitted that the fighting was fierce and that there were casualties, but he rejected the statement.

Interestingly, the matter does not end there by any means. A number of Russian military correspondents – all nationalists and supporters of the war – criticized the authorities’ response. The mere fact that the Gray Zone Telegram channel, which is very popular with 340,000 subscribers, published a letter of protest proves that not all information can be suppressed in Russia. In particular, military bloggers with good knowledge of the situation on the front are angry when officers send their soldiers to their deaths senselessly.

On the highly regarded Telegram channel Rybář, the generals were accused of mistakes in planning the advance to Pavlivka. Another nationalist military observer, Alexei Sukonkin, wrote of the “terrible bloodshed” in the battle. He predicted an “information apocalypse” for authorities once some of the soldiers involved became public.

Racist digs

Ethnic resentment is mixed with the criticism. At the request of the soldiers of the 155th brigade, the head of the Eastern Military District, General Rustam Muradov, and the commander of the brigade, Zurab Akhmedov, were personally attacked. It is subtly made clear that the two are not ethnic Russians, but are from the Muslim North Caucasus. Both are more concerned with personal glory than the welfare of soldiers, the paper charges – a criticism that some nationalist military bloggers have also taken up.

Leave a Comment