Ukraine: 'Inept' Russian tactics baffle military experts

‘Inept’ Russian tactics baffle military experts: Tank commanders allowed Ukrainians to ambush them by driving straight up a main road as analysts say they’ve lost enough armoured vehicles to equip the ENTIRE German army

  • Military experts said they are baffled by Russian military tactics after a tank column was ambushed yesterday
  • Ukrainian forces surprised the column – that included some 30 tanks and support units – with artillery strikes
  • The tanks were forced to retreat after missiles rained down from above, destroyed a number of vehicles
  • The full scale of losses suffered by Putin’s armies are unknown, but Ukraine has claimed it has destroyed over 12,000 troops, 350 tanks, 80 helicopters, 125 artillery units, 1,150 personnel carriers and almost 60 planes
  • Figures based just on visual confirmations has put the Russian hardware losses over 1,000

Experts have said they are baffled by the ineptitude of the tactics displayed by Russia’s armies after drone footage yesterday showed a column of tanks getting picked off one-by-one in an ambush carried out by Ukraine’s forces.

Analysts have said Russian tank commanders allowed the Ukrainians to ambush their unit by driving down the middle of a main road leading into Kyiv – and straight into a death trap. By multiple counts, President Vladimir Putin’s forces have lots more tanks than belong to the entire German army.

The devastating artillery strikes came as Putin’s troops inched closer to Kyiv, and saw a number of Russian T-72 tanks and other vehicles destroyed or routed in the surprise attack from the front and back of the convoy.

Ukrainian forces surprised the column that included some 30 tanks and support units, as well as a fearsome TOS-1 thermobaric launcher, forcing survivors to flee and left Russia mourning the loss of another senior commander.

Ukraine’s masterful ambush in Brovary piled on the misery of Moscow’s invading forces, which has suffered more losses than expected and are now facing freezing temperatures in the coming days. Morale is said to be low.

While reports said Russia’s 6th tank regiment escaped with relatively minimal casualties, Russian commander Colonel Andrei Zakharov was reportedly killed, and his unit forced into a retreat. The smouldering wrecks of Russian tanks lay on streets after the fighting.

Defence experts have been left stunned by Russia’s military tactics, with one former British army commander telling The Daily Telegraph today: ‘This is not the Russian army we trained to fight’.

Rob Lee, a Senior Fellow and military expert at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, commented on the ambush, saying the Russian armoured force displayed ‘very poor tactics’.

The Russian column was ‘on an obvious avenue of approach, and they still decided to bunch up like this, leaving them more vulnerable to indirect fire,’ he wrote on Twitter, while sharing drone footage of the strikes.

Meanwhile, analysis by the Austrian military’s R&D department demonstrated the column was part of a larger Russian Battle Tactical Group (BTG), The analysis highlighted different companies within the BTG seen in the drone footage, as it came under Ukrainian heavy artillery guided by an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

Franz-Stefan Gady – an analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies – shared the analysis, and said the ‘fight shows the danger of not securing urban terrain with adequate infantry plus recon. assets when main elements of a force pass through urban terrain ideally suitable for ambushes.’

Pictured: Analysis by the Austrian military’s R&D department demonstrated the column was part of a larger Russian Battle Tactical Group (BTG). The analysis highlighted different companies within the unit as it came under heavy artillery fire

Drone footage posted online on Thursday (pictured) captured the ‘Battle of Brovary’, named after the north-eastern Kyiv suburb in which it took place. It showed explosions around the Russian tanks, releasing plumes of black and grey smoke into the air, with suburban houses seen on either side of the road 

Pictured: A graphic showing Russian army equipment that has been visually confirmed as destroyed by Oryx – a military blog that is tracking Moscow’s losses during its invasion of Ukraine. Oryx says its figures are based on ‘photo or videographic evidence. Therefore, the amount of equipment destroyed is significantly higher than recorded here’

The full scale of losses suffered by Putin’s armies are unknown, but Ukraine has claimed it has destroyed over 12,000 troops, 350 tanks, 80 helicopters, 125 artillery units, 1,150 personnel carriers and almost 60 planes.

Figures based on visual confirmations by military tracking website Oryx suggest over 1,000 Russian vehicles have been destroyed, damaged, abandoned or captured in the war.

According to Oryx’s figures as of March 11, Russia has lost 1,034 vehicles, of which 424 were destroyed, 13 were damaged, 159 were abandoned by Russian troops and 438 were captured by Ukraine’s forces. 

While there is some discrepancy between figures detailing visually confirmed Russian vehicle losses released by Oryx and those released by Ukraine’s defence officials, both paint a grim picture for Moscow’s armies. 

Oryx says its figures are based on ‘photo or videographic evidence. Therefore, the amount of equipment destroyed is significantly higher than recorded here.’

Tobias Schneider, a research fellow at the Global Public Policy Institute in Berlin, said Russian losses visually confirmed by Oryx ‘now amount to approximately one Bundeswehr’ – the entire German army. 

The drone footage posted online on Thursday captured the ‘Battle of Brovary’, named after the north-eastern Kyiv suburb in which it took place. It showed explosions around the Russian tanks, releasing plumes of black and grey smoke into the air, with suburban houses seen on either side of the road.

The footage showed the Russian tanks being picked off one-by-one as Ukrainian forces ambushed the column with artillery

The column was shown in the footage driving down a main road into the Brovary suburb in a long line when it came under fire from artillery. Explosion were seen both on the road and in the fields in the distance.

Two tanks were shown pulled up on the side of the road, while others further into the suburb were shown bunched together in a traffic jam, as artillery fire began to rain down from above. Amongst the tanks, Russian troops can be seen frantically running between the vehicles, which start to turn around to escape the death trap. 

Yesterday smouldering shells of Moscow’s machinery sat abandoned by the road, after the survivors of the attack performed desperate U-turns to flee the deadly corridor and retreated back up the road.

In video released by Ukraine’s military, a Russian soldier could be heard saying: ‘Commander, the commander’s dead!’. The second voice asked for the message to be repeated – to which the first voice shouted: ‘He’s dead! The commander’s dead!’.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence named the dead Russian commander as Colonel Andrei Zakharov, of the 6th Tank Regiment of the 90th Tank Division, whom its statement describes as having been ‘liquidated’.

In 2016, he was awarded the Order of Courage by Vladimir Putin, and the two stood shoulder-to-shoulder in photographs. 

Zakharov’s death, which could not immediately be verified, is another blow for Putin, as it follows those of Major General Vitaly Gerasimov, chief of staff of Russia’s 41st Army, reportedly killed in fighting in Kharkiv on Monday, and Major General Andrei Sukhovetsky, the 41st Army’s deputy commander, who perished early in the invasion.

Aftermath: Destroyed Russian tanks are seen on a main road after the column of military vehicles was ambushed by Ukrainian artillery fire as they drove through Brovary, north of Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, March 10, 2022. Tank tracks can be seen in the mud either side of the road where the drivers of the tanks desperately performed U-turns to escape the death trap

A Russian armoured vehicle sits by the side of the road in Brovary, to the east of Kyiv, after being destroyed in an artillery and rocket ambush that caused heavy casualties

A destroyed tank is seen after battles between Ukrainian and Russian forces on a main road near Brovary, north of Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, March 10, 2022

Ukrainian forces surprised the column that included some 30 tanks and support units, as well as a fearsome TOS-1 thermobaric launcher, forcing survivors to flee and left Russia mourning the loss of another senior commander

A destroyed Russian tank is seen after battles on a main road near Brovary, north of Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, March 10, 2022

On Friday, the Ukrainian military warned Russia was trying to ‘block’ Kyiv by taking out defences to the west and northwest of the capital, adding that there was also a risk to Brovary on the east – where the ambush took place.

Kyiv’s mayor Vitali Klitschko said Thursday that half the city’s population had fled and the capital ‘has been transformed into a fortress’. ‘Every street, every building, every checkpoint has been fortified,’ he said.

The northwest suburbs, including Irpin and Bucha, have endured days of heavy bombardment but Russian armoured vehicles are also advancing on the northeastern edge of Kyiv.

Ukrainian soldiers described fierce fighting for control of the main highway leading into the capital, and AFP reporters saw missile strikes in Velyka Dymerka just outside Kyiv’s city limits.

‘It’s frightening, but what can you do?’ said Vasyl Popov, a 38-year-old advertising salesman. ‘There is nowhere to really run or hide. We live here.’

Britain’s defence ministry said in an intelligence update that ‘Russian forces are committing an increased number of their deployed forces to encircle key cities’. It said: ‘This will reduce the number of forces available to continue their advance and will further slow Russian progress.’

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday backed plans to allow volunteers, including from abroad, to fight in what Moscow calls a ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine.

The Russian army this week admitted conscripts were taking part, after Putin previously said only ‘professional’ soldiers were involved.

A Ukrainian serviceman aims towards Russian positions outside the city of Brovary, east of Kyiv, on March 9, 2022

Meanwhile, Russian strikes hit civilian targets in central Ukraine’s Dnipro city on Friday, as Moscow’s troops edged closer to Kyiv, where officials said the capital was being transformed into a ‘fortress’.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians remained trapped and under fire in Ukrainian cities, including besieged Mariupol, after the first talks between Moscow and Kyiv’s top diplomats ended Thursday without any progress.

In the early hours of Friday, Russian war planes carried out what appeared to be the first direct attack on Dnipro, killing one person, emergency services said in a statement.

Three air strikes hit a kindergarten, apartment building and a shoe factory, it said.

Two Ukrainian soldiers were killed and six wounded in Russian strikes on the Lutsk military airport in the northwest, local authorities said.

Russian forces are currently encircling at least four major Ukrainian cities, while the capital Kyiv is increasingly at risk of being surrounded.

The UN said some 2.5 million refugees have left Ukraine since Russia shocked the world by invading its neighbour on February 24.

Pictured: A checkpoint near the village of Velyka Dymerka, 40km east of Kyiv

The southern port city of Mariupol has suffered relentless bombardment, including on attempted aid deliveries, according to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky.

He said Moscow had launched a ‘tank attack’ targeting a humanitarian corridor where he had dispatched a convoy to try to get food, water and medicine into the city.

The attack, which Zelensky described in a video statement as ‘outright terror’, came a day after the bombing of a children’s hospital there that local officials said killed three people, including a young girl.

Zelensky branded that attack a ‘war crime’, a position backed by top Western officials, while Russia’s army claimed the bombing was a ‘staged provocation’ by Ukraine.

In a video, Mariupol mayor Vadym Boichenko said Russian warplanes had targeted residential areas in the city ‘every 30 minutes’ on Thursday, ‘killing civilians, the elderly, women and children’.

The situation in the city has been described as ‘apocalyptic’, with more than 1,200 civilians killed in days of constant attacks, according to the mayor.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said some residents had started fighting for food, and many had run out of drinking water.

Yulia, a 29-year-old teacher who fled Mariupol, said her mother-in-law was still there, and told them ‘the attacks don’t stop’. She told AFP news agency: ‘There are many corpses on the street and nobody buries them.’

Some humanitarian corridors out of cities under attack have held.

Around 100,000 people have been able to leave the northeastern city of Sumy, the eastern city of Izyum, and areas northwest of Kyiv in the last two days, Ukrainian officials said.

Moscow said it would also open daily humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians to Russian territory, but Kyiv has rejected routes leading to Russia.

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