Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 09.02.2019
Russians are dying in greater number in Putin’s futile war against Ukraine, now entering its sixth year. Always on the offensive, but with insufficient means to achieve victory, Russian soldiers in the invasion army in Donbas are effectively cannon-fodder. The Kremlin imposes strict censorship on the level of casualties suffered by the 1st Army Corps (so-called “DPR”) and 2nd Army Corps (so-called “LPR”) of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. But Ukrainian military intelligence is carefully documenting the rising numbers of dead and injured Russian soldiers.
The Russian invasion-occupation army in eastern Ukraine pushes forward primarily irregular troops in its assaults. These soldiers are poorly disciplined and suffer from poor morale. They are mercenaries (“contract soldiers”) and local troops. Their main motivation is money. They are led by regular Russian officers who are indifferent whether the troops under their command live or die. Ukrainian defenders call the Russian soldiers who are attacking them “orcs,” named after J.R.R. Tolkien’s imaginary creatures that are bred to do evil and serve a dark lord.
Combat on the battlefront in the past few days demonstrates the effectiveness of the Ukrainian defence and the futility of Russian offensive tactics. The Battle of the Bakhmut Road is being fought in a sector west of the Russian-occupied city of Luhansk. The Russians are attempting to seize a strategic east-west road, which the Ukrainians are defending from fortifications outside the villages of Krymske, Novotoshkivske, Zolote and other points.
Ukraine’s 10th Mountain Assault Brigade is deployed to this sector and it is equipped with the Stugna-P anti-tank guided missile system. Developed by the Luch Design Bureau in Kyiv and manufactured in Ukraine, the Stugna-P is proving to be devastatingly effective in the Battle of the Bakhmut Road. A soldier serving with the 10th Mountain Assault Brigade reported on social media on February 8 that his unit had destroyed four targets with four shots – a remarkable record.
The soldier, Hlib Babich, wrote that Stugna-P missiles destroyed two trucks containing Russian auxiliary troops and destroyed two tracked vehicles with 23mm anti-aircraft twin barrelled autocannons mounted on them (one with troops). In all four cases the enemy Russians were attempting to approach the positions of the Ukrainian defenders.
“This is a manifestation of the army’s strength. This is a manifestation of the army’s preparedness and readiness,” wrote Hlib Babich. It is also a sign of how the Russian military command and political leadership treat Russian soldiers fighting a war of aggression: as cannon-fodder.
The press service of the Joint Forces Operation (JFO) of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reports on the attacks by Russian invasion-occupation forces in Donbas. Reporting on the findings of Ukrainian military intelligence, the JFO press service states that to date in the month of February Russian forces have taken 58 casualties. 26 Russian soldiers have been killed in action and another 32 have been wounded in action.
The Russians invading Crimea and Donbas treat Ukrainians with contempt. But they treat their own people no better. The front line soldiers of Putin’s aggression against Ukraine are nothing but cannon-fodder.