“In the 82 days since Russia widened its war on Ukraine, the Russian military has lost a third of its forces, according to the U.K. Defense Ministry.”Speech by Defense Secretary Ben Wallace MP
“Since February we have witnessed a systemic refusal to tell the truth up the chain of command, and it is playing out. Consider the fact alone that mobile crematoria trundle around the battlefields not just to hide Russian war crimes, they are for their own soldiers’ corpses as well.
Imagine what it must do to the morale of a private soldier to know your commanders have so little faith in their campaign that you are followed around by those horrific contraptions. Or let’s consider the fate of a single unit, such as the 331st Guards Parachute Regiment, allegedly the “best of the best” in the VDV. The so called ‘elite’ Russian Airborne Forces. Supposedly professional soldiers, reportedly well-equipped, well-trained, and well-led.
At the start of the invasion they were tasked with seizing Hostomel airfield on the outskirts of Kyiv, assessed to be planned as the airhead for reinforcement of subsequent operations to seize the capital.
A significant proportion of the Ukrainian defenders were reservists, and despite significant Russian advantages their resistance was ferocious and brave, with the airfield changing hands several times within the first 72 hours of the invasion.
As Russian Forces sought to consolidate the area they advanced into the nearby towns of Hostomel, Irpin and Bucha. Those places sadly, we now know, will forever be associated with the most despicable of war crimes.
The fighting within them was intense, and open source footage alone shows the dozens of destroyed Russian vehicles and streets littered with dead troops.
The 331st paid a particularly heavy price for having had to advance in haste, without a coherent operational plan, only light air-mobile armoured vehicles, and insufficient combat needed to sustain such fighting.
Back in the unit’s hometown of Kostroma, in Western Russia, worried family members began posting online.
Some confirmed the deaths of their loved ones with loving tributes. The wife of a Warrant Officer wrote “My most reliable, loving and caring husband. Now you are in heaven and you will protect us. You will always live in our hearts.”
And as news of growing casualties spread, some posted their increasing concern and condemned the Russian military for sending them to their deaths in Ukraine.
On the memorial wall for Sergeant Sergei Duganov one woman wrote: “nobody knows anything. The 331st Regiment is disappearing”.
Others wrote that “ordinary boys are dying for no good reason”. The accusations President Putin had decided to “play war” and “sent thousands of guys to die”.
And what were all those sacrifices allegedly for on that poorly planned and badly executed operation?
On 29th March, Russian Deputy Minister Alexander Fomin announced the withdrawal of Russian forces from the Kyiv area and the evacuation of Hostomel airfield.
The axis of advance from Belarus to Kyiv had been repelled and was abandoned for those shell-shocked troops to now support a new offensive in the East.
Ukraine’s moral component had led those brave fighters to defeat the Russian Army, poorly equipped and poorly led, and so it should have been.”
And it’s not just outsiders. Look at what this brave Russian journalist said:
In an extremely rare moment of candour on Russian state TV today, defence columnist Mikhail Khodaryonok gave a damning assessment of Russia’s war in Ukraine and his country’s international isolation. It’s fairly long but worth your time so I’ve added subtitles. pic.twitter.com/0mr7WAgSx6— Francis Scarr (@francis_scarr) May 16, 2022
Great article over at Forbes.