Russian forces condemned an inexplicable battle in Donetsk after suffering heavy casualties during a week of heavy fighting in a key region of eastern Ukraine.
Moscow has been trying to break through Kiev’s defenses around Pavlivka for at least seven days, but at least 300 people have died and little progress appears to have been made, according to an apparently Russian open letter. Army blog on Monday.
Marines from the Russian Pacific Fleet’s 155th Brigade have launched a fierce backlash, accusing authorities of “fearing responsibility” in a rare act of defiance.
The letter, sent from the front to a regional Russian governor, comes as President Vladimir Putin claims it was illegally seized more than a month ago during Moscow’s relentless offensive.
“Once again, in an incomprehensible battle between General Muradov and his father-in-law, his countryman Akhmedov, we once again managed to get bonuses to make Muradov look good in the eyes of Gerasimov (the Commander-in-Chief of Russia),” the people said in a note sent to the governor of Primorsky Krai.
“The ‘carefully planned’ offensive by the commanders has resulted in 300 dead and 300 injured with MIA in the past four days.
“We lost 50 percent of our equipment. That’s our only brigade. The district command along with Akhmedov is hiding these facts and falsifying the official death statistics for fear of being held accountable.”
They asked Governor Oleg Kozhemyako, “How long will middlemen like Muradov and Akhmedov allow military campaigns to catch up and win prizes for the lives of many people?
Russian military commentators have criticized the military’s approach in Donetsk.
“The situation in Pavlivka has been discussed at the highest level for several days, and blood continues to flow,” Aleksandr Sladkov, a Russian military correspondent working for All-Russian State Television and Radio, said on Telegram.
“They say that the troops are now in a dilemma, they cannot withdraw without adding new ones to the exhausted units. There is no possibility of withdrawal and replacement due to constant fire,” Russian military journalist Alexey Sukonkin wrote on Telegram.
“Why should we withdraw from Pavlivka and take it back now?” said Aleksander Khodakovsky, a Russian-backed commander in the Donetsk People’s Republic, criticizing Moscow’s tactical approach to the region.
Russian troops are using basements as defensive positions, Khodakovsky said.
“That’s why a small number of Marines, including company commanders, were imprisoned at the time. They were held hostage by their own defense organization, not because they were weak, Khodakovsky said, adding that Ukrainian reconnaissance forces used high-rise buildings in nearby Vuhledar to install cameras on top of mines to guide artillery. Strike
“Pavlivka’s defenders will be taken hostage again. He said that supplies and diversions would be difficult and that a move through Pavlivka would be impossible.
CNN could not confirm the number of soldiers who signed the letter and their positions, but Governor Kozhemyako confirmed that he had received a letter from the unit.
“We contacted the Marine commanders on the front line. These guys are the ones who have been fighting since the beginning of the operation,” the governor said on Telegram.
Kozhemyako emphasized that the combat commander had greatly exaggerated the deaths of the Primorsky troops.
“I know for myself that our fighters displayed true heroism and unprecedented courage throughout the special operation, as well as at Pavlivka. They inflicted heavy damage on the enemy.”
Kozamyako said the soldiers’ complaint was sent to the military prosecutor’s office.
Russia’s Defense Ministry has responded in a rare public response to criticism of the Donetsk operation, denying that its forces have suffered huge and senseless losses in men and material.
Russia’s losses in the Vuhledar and Pavlivka areas of the Donetsk region “did not exceed 1 percent of the combat force and 7 percent of the wounded,” the ministry announced Monday, according to Russian state media. Agency TASS reported.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the fierce battle for Donetsk “remains the center of the biggest madness of the occupiers” and dismissed Kozhemyako’s claims that Moscow’s losses were “not that big”.
“Hundreds of them are dying every day,” Zelensky added. “The ground in front of the Ukrainian positions is completely littered with the bodies of the occupiers.
Noting that the governor is 9,000 kilometers (around 5,500 miles) from the front line, Zelensky said, “From there, the governor can know very well how many soldiers and how they are sent to kill from his region. Or simply order him to lie.”
In the past few days, social media and drone videos have shown dozens of Russian tanks and other armored vehicles on the front lines near Pavlivka, about 50 kilometers southwest of Donetsk, for months.
Ukraine’s military released video footage of two Russian T-72B tanks and three BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles being hit by Ukrainian artillery and tank systems, with senior officials citing heavy firefights in the area.
“The enemy is losing the opportunity to implement their plans,” Oleksii Hromov, deputy head of Ukraine’s Directorate of Operations, said on Thursday.