Fratricide reports among Russian Soldiers

There is a single report of fratricide among Russian forces in Ukraine. Colonel Yuri Medvedev was seen in a Russian video being transported to a hospital in Belarus being assisted by Chenchen soldiers. An enlisted tank driver was apparently upset over the casualties in his unit(on the order of 50%) and drove his tank over his commander mangling his legs.  The Colonel is reportedly alive, which is a break from the recent norm which has seen some 15 other officers of flag rank killed in the last month of fighting.

While a single incident of fratricide does not point to it being widespread, it is of note that the unit involved was the 37th Separate Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade which is one of the Russian army’s elite units.

 

GRU Spetsnaz units during the Georgian War in 2008

At Push of Bayonets

During the Napoleonic wars the British army had a way of ensuring their troops in formation would advance as ordered and keep advancing in a tough fight, the order was called an “Advance At Push of Bayonets.”  The soldiers in their rows would fix their bayonets and aim them at the back of the soldier in front of them. If that soldier stopped or tried to take a step backward in retreat, the soldier behind him would prod him forward with his bayonet. There are reports of Russian units being deployed to ensure other Russian units fight or kill them if they refuse. This practice is a throwback to Russian tactics employed during WWII when the Russians laid minefields behind their own units to prevent their retreat and roving patrols in the rear areas were employed to round up any soldiers who bugged out and summarily execute them for desertion in the face of the enemy.  The Soviets even had Penal Battalions made up of prisoners who were sent forward in human wave attacks(often unarmed) to make the Germans expend their ammunition.

The units most likely to be called upon to perform these duties today would be the Spetsnaz units of the Russian Army’s military intelligence (The GRU), units of the Federal Security Service(The FSB) and, units of Putin’s personal army, the Russian National Guard which answers only to him and numbers some 340,000 well-equipped troops.

These reports underline an apparent problem with units walking away from armed and fueled vehicles and surrendering when the first shot is fired. If these reports of units with orders to shoot deserting troops are true, the desertion problems must be significant.

 

Captured Russian military hardware on display in Kyiv. Photo; US Embassy, Kyiv

 

Russia’s Equipment Losses are an Intelligence Bonanza for the US

Vast amounts of Russian military equipment have been captured by Ukrainian forces. Quite a bit of it will be crated up and sent to the US for test and evaluation purposes.

The items on the US shopping list would include things like,

The 1V13 battery fire control center, the 1V119 artillery fire direction vehicle, the 9P149 Shturm-S ATGM carrier, the BTR-MDM ‘Rakushka’, Barnaul-T 9С932-1 automated system for air defense units, the R-419L1 communications station, and the Krasucha-4 Electronic Warfare System.

The US will also be able to obtain examples of all the Russian Anti-tank Guided Missiles in the Russian army as well, including the 9M113M Konkurs-M,  9М131 Metis-M, 9М131F Metis-M1 as well as the 9М133, and 9M114 Kornet missiles.

The Ukrainians have also captured at least 24 man-portable anti-aircraft missiles like the  9K38 Igla and, 9K333 Verba which the US will obtain examples of as well.

Finally, the Russians have lost a great many tanks including some of their latest T-80 and T-90 variants and it safe to assume that the US has people on the ground in Ukraine examining captured models and even destroyed tanks to assess the effectiveness of Javelin missiles and other anti-tank missiles provided to Ukraine.

In the desert of the National Training Center at Ft Irwin CA, the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment operates as an OPFOR using visually modified US tanks and fighting vehicles to simulate Russian forces for US troops in combat exercises. Some of that equipment will end up there after evaluation for our own troops to examine close up.

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US troops in Russian uniforms ride in visually modified M551 Sheridan tanks to imitate Russian forces and tactics in a training exercise at the National Training Center at Ft Irwin CA.

 

Russian Mechanized Troops dig in

US Intelligence estimates are seeing Russian troops North of Kyiv digging into defensive positions, and not trying to move forward. This may indicate more than anything the changing fortunes of the Russian army in northern Ukraine.  Armored infantry isn’t supposed to dig in and go over to a defensive posture as these are offensive formations made to shoot, move fast and maneuver. Digging into a static defense posture is something leg infantry does to hold a position.  This is a matter of doctrine long established.  In WWII, General Patton told his army, “My men don’t dig foxholes. Foxholes only slow up an offensive. Keep moving.”

To put armored troops on the defensive is to waste them.  They also lack the basic equipment an infantry unit has and needs to mount an effective static defense, like barbed wire, mines, crew-served machine guns, snipers, anti-tank missiles, and mortars. Their tanks and APCs are a liability in defense as their presence marks the position of the dug-in infantry from the air and invites artillery strikes by guns and missiles. These tanks can be dug in as well and camouflaged but in video after video, we have seen parked armored vehicles destroyed on the ground without even an attempt to conceal their positions.  They are all still painted green and stand out like sore thumbs. Most of the tanks we have seen don’t even have a whitewash of paint in brown and white to conceal them.  In the two examples we have seen of the Russians attempting to conceal their tanks in woodlands, they neglected to wipe out the tank tracks in the mud that lead directly to their location for any drone overhead directing artillery.

Recent military maps of the situation on the ground show Russian forces occupying pockets that Ukraine can surround and cut off.  With Russian army forces short of everything, even shoes, there is a 70% chance that in the next two weeks we will see Russian units near Kyiv cut off, surrounded and forced to surrender in mass.

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