The Ukrainian Forces have been known to be individuals who do not just sit and wait for the fight to come to them. They actively seek them out. One of the units sneaking in and out of reach of Russian armored formations is the Carpathian Sich Battalion, a volunteer unit deployed on the frontlines somewhere in the city of Izyum.
“We are shifting from defense to offense. Forces around us are already moving ahead,” Carpathian Sich Battalion Deputy Commander Rusyn said to The Wall Street Journal. “We are getting ready to push them all the way to the border.”
In the city of Izyum, the fighting has been reported to be fierce and at very close ranges. It’s not uncommon to see close-quarter fighting on this front, with Ukrainian and Russian troops frequently obtaining glimpses of one another as they take up more advantageous positions.
This is quite new to both parties. If you’ve been watching and monitoring the Russo-Ukrainian War, most of the fighting has been done from a distance, with the Russians launching precision-guided missiles and artillery fire at the Ukrainian fortified positions. While Ukraine also has shelled Russian positions, it’s mostly been known to use its Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drones to attack Russian forces effectively. More so, the Ukrainians have made great use of their western-supplied anti-tank and anti-armor systems.
The simple, immutable fact of ground warfare is that you need infantry to take and hold ground and once the bombs and shells have done their work softening up enemy defenses, you still gotta send in the “grunts” to finish the job.
The Carpathian Sich Battalion had been pretty successful in destroying Russian tanks with hit-and-run tactics, much like Ukrainian Special Forces have done all throughout the war. This is why the Russians had been shelling their positions non-stop as they were successful in taking out these tanks.
“The Russians are very angry today because yesterday we killed two of their tanks,” Carpathian Sich Battalion platoon leader “Marian,” said. He told The Wall Street Journal that it was every soldier’s dream in the battalion to destroy a Russian (they refer to them as the Muscovites) tank.
While the Ukrainians have used their anti-tank munitions against armored formations, the Carpathian Sich Battalion had been more innovative and resourceful with their most recent attacks. According to reports, the battalion had upgraded a commercial drone to carry mortars and drop them on Russian tanks – the latest improvisation in this war.
The members of Ukraine's Carpathian Sich Battalion dropping small improvised munitions on Russian positions from a drone. pic.twitter.com/GTnXWzL2tN
— Status-6 (@Archer83Able) May 11, 2022
This tactic of repurposing and re-engineering commercial drones by Ukrainians is not new. In fact, it has become somewhat symbolic of their tactics in the war. SOFREP previously reported last April that a Ukrainian Special Forces unit had been wreaking havoc on the 40-mile Russian armored column that had been stalled due to low fuel en route to the capital city of Kyiv.
This group, the Aerorozvidka, was a volunteer, non-government organization at first when it was established in 2014. It was composed of IT professionals, hobbyists, and military enthusiasts who wanted to make a difference. They have been adopted as a military air reconnaissance unit under the Ukrainian Forces.
The unit is credited for destroying several parts of the 40-mile Russian armored column while they were sitting ducks out in the open, utilizing their very own re-engineered commercial drones modified with anti-tank weapons and thermal cameras to destroy and kill Russians. Their most prized drone is the R18 model, which has a 40 minutes flight time, a 2.5-mile range, and can carry up to an 11 lbs payload. Relatively cheap weaponry to take out Russian tanks, pretty efficient too.
We think our own Defence Department is probably learning some interesting lessons in deploying small drones in infantry support roles given their success in Ukraine so far.
Apparently, the Carpathian Sich Battalion was up against the infamous elite Russian 4th Guards Tank Division in Izyum… or what is left of it. If you can recall, the 4th Guards Tank Division was all but annihilated by the Ukrainian forces last March during a battle in Trostyanets in Sumy, some 15 miles from the Russian border. The unit was reported to be low on fuel and food, which left them vulnerable to Ukrainian counterattacks. Evidence suggests that what was left of the unit had fallen back as they were relatively near the Russian border. From here, we can deduce that they resupplied and repaired their usable tanks and were redeployed to Izyum.
It appears the elite Russian 4th Guards Tank Division is still pretty much losing their fight as the Carpathian Sich has been destroying what is left of their tanks. What’s worse is that this is the best tank division Russia allegedly has to offer, with the unit boasting that they were always “battle-ready.” Reports suggest that they were redeployed there to help their country encircle the Donbas region; however, recent intel from the British Defense Ministry reported that they have actually abandoned their large scale efforts to encircle the entire region, possibly because of situations like this where their forces are unable to advance due to Ukrainian counteroffensives.
They’re not all alone in their fight, however. Ukrainian army units are supporting their offensive with US-supplied M777 howitzers firing from the rear to cover their positions. As soon as the Russians attempt to advance, the artillery rounds start coming down on them. It is also very effective to keep Russian positions under constant harassing fire to prevent them from sleeping, eating, repositioning and wearing them out by keeping them constantly on alert.
M777 howitzer, eastern Ukraine pic.twitter.com/xkdwDYjRjt
— OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) May 24, 2022
The battalion does recon work prior to hitting their targets, scanning hills and the terrain till they spot something of significance to attack. They were said to move in between Russian salvos as the Russian forces attempt to shell Ukrainian positions non-stop. The Russians have reconnaissance units of their own, so it’s not uncommon to see close combat here. In fact, the Ukrainians have lost soldiers as well, notably from a Russian ambush in Izyum while they had been doing recon work.
“We only strike at confirmed targets when we obtain precise coordinates, either by drones or through reconnaissance,” a reconnaissance team member said. So far the Ukrainians have shown admirable tactical flexibility, willing to withdraw from fights they are overmatched in and attacking Russian positions where they find a weakness. This is in contrast to Russian forces which will doggedly attack strong positions repeatedly until they are rendered combat ineffective.
After receiving the information they need from the recon team, they go back into their fortified positions and examine the coordinates of the spotted Russian units on a tablet. This tablet is connected to Ukraine’s military battlespace management software. Here, the unit brainstorms and analyzes the best way to destroy the target. Furthermore, they decide whether to use their Javelins, which the US had provided them with and their very own Stugna-P anti-tank weapons. They also have the aforementioned Bayraktar TB2 drone as well as their modded drones to attack these Russians.
“We are not a passive victim hiding in a burrow and just waiting for the enemy to come and get us. We carry out offensive operations and try to destroy the enemy, during the day and during the night,” their Commander “Semen” said.
“It’s a very complicated game. As we choose their vulnerable points and hit them, the intensity of their operations has decreased. They don’t have enough men, they don’t have the morale, and they keep losing the armor that they cannot replace. It’s hard for them. They are not idiots, and they don’t want to die, either.”
The Carpathian Sich Battalion was established in June 2014 formed by the Svoboda Party. They are mostly made up of volunteers who wanted to fight the war in Donbas in 2014 and later became an active military unit under Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs. Today, they fight on the frontlines, taking out Russian tanks and troops one by one, hoping that they defeat the Russians and drive them back to their borders.