‘Highly risky’ Russian commanders under ‘pressure’ as MoD shares humiliating defeat

Ukrainian forces destroy Russian bridging on Seversky Donets

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The move speaks to the pressure Russian commanders face to make gains in a stalled campaign in eastern Ukraine. According to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), Russia lost significant armoured elements of a Battalion Tactical Group as well as their bridging equipment when they tried to cross the Siverskyi Donets river in the Donbas.

The MoD tweeted: “Images indicate that during the crossing of the Siverskyi Donets river west of Severodonetsk, Russia lost significant armoured manoeuvre elements of at least one Battalion Tactical Group as well as the deployed pontoon bridging equipment.”

A Battalion Tactical Group (BTG) is made up of 600-800 soldiers, typically accompanied by 10 tanks and 40 infantry fighting vehicles. Russia was thought to have approximately 170 BTGs at the start of the invasion.

Reports on Twitter, however, claimed that more than 70 vehicles were destroyed in the attempted crossing while The Times reported that up to 1000 Russian soldiers may have been killed.

The move is thought to show the immense pressure faced by Russian commanders, as Putin’s invasion plan has been turned on its head by fierce Ukrainian resistance.

The MoD added: “Conducting river crossings in a contested environment is a highly risky manoeuvre and speaks to the pressure the Russian commanders are under to make progress in their operations in eastern Ukraine.”

Russian commanders have been taking risks throughout the war to try to complete their objectives in Ukraine. Their proximity to the frontline has resulted in the deaths of several high ranking officers not usually seen in modern warfare.

Between 8 and 10 Russian generals are thought to have been killed in the invasion, according to head of the US Defense Intelligence Agency Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence puts that number at 12.

The death toll likely points to Russian generals attempting to ensure that their plans are carried out on the battlefield – something which is increasingly difficult due to thin-stretched communication and supply lines.

Suffering from poor morale and a lack of supplies, this may point to the Russian Army’s ineffectiveness as a fighting force.

Retired US Army Colonel said the death toll was something not seen since the Second World War.

He said: “Maybe you’d have to go back to World War II to have that sort of proportion of senior officers being killed on the front lines.”

“It suggests that the generals need to be at the front lines to ensure that their troops are conducting the battle plan in the way that they want.”

Speaking to ABC News, he added: “But that also suggests a lack of confidence in their troops if they need to be that far forward with that many senior folks.”

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Russian forces have been trying to make a breakthrough is eastern Ukraine following a retreat after they were defeated by Ukrainian forces in the north and northeast of the country.

Faced by a much smaller army with Western military hardware and the will to fight, Putin doubled down on his plan ordering the vast majority of his forces to the east of the country.

The Ukrainians, however, have continued to hold out with the frontline changing relatively little since the shift in strategy.

The MoD said that the Russians were trying to envelop Ukrainian forces in order to cut off their supply lines and ability to be reinforced, a tactic which has, so far, failed in the face of stiff Ukrainian resistance.

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