Amidst raging firefights in the east as Russia and Ukraine enter the fourth month of the war, the Ukrainian Armed Forces claimed that they have destroyed Russia’s 35th Combined Arms Army as a fighting unit in Izyum, Kharkiv.

The news was first reported by Ukrainian Presidential Adviser Andriy Yermak, who shared that the 35th Combined Arms Army indeed had been all but destroyed in Izyum. While many would doubt these claims as the Ukrainians can come up with their own propaganda as information wars have become a staple of the war, the report was also verified by a pro-Russian military blogger and The Institute for the Study of War.

The pro-Russian military blogger from the Luhansk region goes by the name Boytsovyi Kot Murz or “Murz,” who apparently has a substantial following. In his blog post, he reveals several details that have not been shared before.

The blogger said that the Russian forces did not account for the challenges they would encounter in the Izyum woods, which led to the destruction of the 64th and 38th Separate Guard Motor Rifle Brigade (from the 35th Combined Arms Army), both of which have less than 100 servicemen combined. A brigade-sized infantry unit in Russia would normally have between 900 men for an armored brigade and 2,000 men for an infantry brigade.

“The 35th army of RF AF, fighting in the forests near Izyum – they asked me to convey a message that, generally speaking, the task of destroying own forces was successfully completed by army’s command – the army is almost gone,” he said.

 

He reveals that the army’s military vehicles were not functional due to technical reasons and damage. The Ukrainians took advantage of this by firing on those tanks that were dug in. The blogger also reveals that the army had been using “civilian communication equipment” and field phones. However, when these were not working, the army utilized messengers.

The 35th Combined Arms Army was apparently attacked by a range of attack drones, which had obliterated the Russian forces to just a mere 12-15 people left in the 64th Brigade. In Russia, an “Army” can be comprised of upwards of 200,000 troops and it really a unit of organization that would include attached regiments and divisions of infantry, armor, artillery, and avation types.  In Ukraine, the 35th seemed to be comprised of just two infantry brigades totaling about 1,600 troops in two battalions with an attached battalion of armor.

“Thus, by early June, the numbers of combat-ready infantry in certain motorized brigade battalions of the army successfully reached 12-15 people (64th brigade), the combined number of 38th and 64th motorized brigades – less than 100 of truly combat-ready infantry in each brigade.”

The losses would not just be from combat. Troops that jumped off on the invasion on February 24th have been in near-continuous combat for four months and living outdoors mostly. This amount of time in the field wears down both men and equipment and you start losing men to sickness and fatigue, not just enemy action. The war is proving to be very unpopular with the troops so we also expect that a certain amount of casualties represent self-inflicted wounds by soldiers desperate to escape the slaughter.

Generally, a regiment or battalion that takes significant losses would be withdrawn to the rear to receive replacements and new equipment. The fact that the 35th Army and its brigades had to remain on the line while not being replenished at all gives a strong indication of the manpower and material shortages of the Russian army overall.

Murz revealed that the Wagner Group had also been operating in Kharkiv. He reported that these mercenaries refused to attack enemy positions as “they were not paid that much money” to do so.

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According to the blogger, the so-called Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics had created their own militias called the People’s Militia of LPR and the People’s Militia of DPR.

He reveals that most of the men from these militias have died in the first few days of the war because of reasons we already figured out based on western intel, that these troops were poorly trained and were equipped with unmaintained weapons and military equipment. He also revealed that their men who had previous combat experience were the first people to die and were already in graves in the first few weeks of the war.

“Poor training, poor equipment, shoddy supply and a shoddy quality of the most “imported” advisors, who systematically reduce the combat readiness of the troops rather than increasing it,” he said, adding that soldiers from Russian-held Luhansk and Donetsk were armed with Mosin-Nagant rifles, confirming our previous report from months prior. In addition to this, these troops were not provided with armored vests, first aid, and medicine. He says these forces were just thrown into the fight without any care.

Currently, their forces are led by sergeants who were privates when the war started 4 months ago, which further suggests terrible manpower shortages. He describes these brigades as units that were filled with “mobs.”

Syrian tactics, which were reportedly in use in Ukraine as the commander for the invasion was General Alexander Dvorkinov (The Butcher of Syria), were not at all effective, according to Murz. He also reports that the GRAD MLRS being used by the Russians was extremely expensive but also was causing a “completely useless circus.” In Syria, the Russian were fighting a hodgepodge of local militia groups with very little training and modern equipment, while Ukraine’s soldiers are much better equipped and trained.

Syria didn’t help. The lessons were not learned. Likewise, the “calibration of the rears” had no influence since it was decided to not touch logistics and civilian infrastructure. So basically, endless billions of dollars were thrown away.

A field in Dolgenkoye, Kharkiv where craters from explosions can be seen (NEXTA). Source: https://twitter.com/nexta_tv/status/1534263588600393732
A field in Dolgenkoye, Kharkiv, where craters from explosions can be seen (MAXAR/NEXTA/Twitter)

He also lamented the fact that these forces were being sent in for no apparent reason as they were extremely unprepared to do so:

What is the need for this insane, wild, terrible, I don’t know what else to call it, a completely unprepared mobilization? It is to fill with “mobs” the calm sections of the frontline, and throw the LPR People’s Militia “contractors”, read more or less trained troops, to advance on Ukrainians. To achieve at least an equal number of attackers and defenders.

He would then end with the question asked by a soldier from their side of the war, “How successfully can the Russian army transfer and bring into combat the combined-arms formations across the whole country?” to which he answers, “NO F*CKING WAY, BLY*T!”

These sentiments by the pro-Russian blogger would be later used as a reference by The Institute For The Study of War for their assessment.