Elite Russian tank brigade suffers ‘catastrophic’ losses
Elite Russian tank brigade suffers ‘catastrophic’ losses and is refusing to carry out orders after they were repeatedly told to drive to their deaths through infamous Ukrainian mine-filled crossroads
Russia’s elite 155th Brigade is reportedly refusing to advance on the Ukrainian town of Vuhledar after suffering ‘catastrophic losses’ at the settlement’s mine-laden crossing point. The armored division appears to have mutinied following orders to drive straight into a heavily fortified minefield dubbed the ‘corridor of death’ for advancing tanks. Vuhledar has resisted Putin’s tactics for months and nearly wiped out the brigade towards the end of January, now reinforced with American anti-vehicle mines.
Putin’s elite marine infantry tank brigade – which served in Syria and has been in Ukraine since the start of the war – is a shell of its former self having lost 130 tanks in three weeks of repeated advances around the town, and is today made up mostly of inexperienced recruits. A spokesperson for the Ukrainian military told the Kyiv Post: ‘The leaders of the brigade and senior officers are refusing to proceed with a new senseless attack as demanded by their unskilled commanders – to storm well-defended Ukrainian positions with little protection or preparation.’ Ukrainian forces around the town of Vuhledar have been locked in ‘fierce’ battles with Russia in the east for months.
The battered mining town is a hellscape of burned out buildings and artillery bombardment. But Ukraine’s use of mines has exacerbated the Russian difficulty through the winter making a sustained advance. Video footage at the end of February showed the moment a Russian BMP infantry fighting vehicle of the 144 Brigade was destroyed after hitting two mines and being hit by an anti-tank weapon.
Almost the entire 155th Marine Brigade of 5,000 was wiped out near Vuhledar at the end of January when driving into minefields of American-supplied remote anti armor mines. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has nonetheless told commanders to take the town at all costs. But the tank division, as well as two ‘Cossack’ units, appear to have mutinied after repeated futile efforts. Justin Crump, a British military analyst, said of the Russian wave tactics: ‘Repeating the same thing time after time and hoping for a different outcome is a sign of madness.’
While the Institute for the Study of War notes that Ukrainian forces are likely now conducting a ‘limited tactical withdrawal’ from the city of Bakhmut, Ukrainian forces around Vuhledar remain steadfast in their defense of the city. A report also noted that the Donetsk People’s Republic commander Alexander Khodakovsky had questioned whether Russia forces would be prepared for a possible Ukrainian counterattack having – in his words – gotten ‘carried away by Bakhmut [and] Vuhledar.’ Ukraine’s use of Soviet-era TM-62 anti-vehicle mines has been effective in the defense of Ukrainian towns and cities, but the provision of 7,200 US-supplied anti-armor mines have significantly reinforced the defensive lines.
Able to be scattered from a distance, the RAAMs allow the Ukrainian defenders to lay traps for advancing Russian armor from a distance, without laying them individually and by hand from within the minefields. The American RAAM mines involve firing a shell over an open area that scatters a cluster of tiny mines over a given area. The mine is a 155mm howitzer shell containing nine separate mines. Ukraine is bound to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, which prohibits use of antipersonnel mines. Pictured: A Ukrainian serviceman stands near a mortar on a front line, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues.
This does not prohibit the use of anti-vehicle mines or remote-controlled mines. Russia never signed the convention, known informally as the Ottawa Treaty, and is not obliged not to use such mines. The invaders have used at least seven types of antipersonnel mines in Donetsk, Kharkiv, Kyiv and Sumy. Human Rights Watch claimed at the end of January that Ukraine had used so-called petal mines in and around the Ukrainian city of Izium, contrary to previous reports the country had not. They noted Russia had ‘used these weapons in even greater numbers than Ukraine in a much more widespread fashion in different parts of the country.’
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