Russian troops reportedly killed 300 people in Donetsk in an “inexplicable battle”.




CNN

Russian troops have complained of “inexplicable fighting” in Donetsk after apparently suffering heavy losses during a week of intense fighting in the key eastern Ukraine region.

Moscow has been trying to breach Kiev’s defenses around the town of Pavlivka for at least the past seven days, but appears to have made little progress as 300 men have been killed in the operation, according to an open letter published to a prominent Russian. military blog on Monday.

Men from Russia’s Pacific Fleet Marines’ 155th Brigade leveled sharp criticism at a senior Russian official in a rare show of defiance, accusing authorities of “concealing” the death toll “for fear of accountability”.

The letter, believed to have been sent from the front lines to a Russian governor in the region, comes amid a flailing offensive by Moscow just over a month ago over what it says has been illegally annexed by President Vladimir Putin.

“Once again we were thrown into an incomprehensible battle by General Muradov and his brother-in-law, his compatriot Akhmedov, so that Muradov could win bonuses to look good in the eyes of Gerasimov (Chief of the General Staff of Russia),” the men said in a statement sent to the governor of Primorsky Krai.

“We lost about 300 men, dead and wounded, in the last four days, with some MIA, as a result of the “prudentially” organized offensive by the great commanders.

“We lost 50% of our equipment. That’s just our brigade. The district command along with Akhmedov are hiding these facts and distorting the official statistics of casualties, for fear of being held responsible.”

They pleaded with the governor of Oleg Kozhemya: “How long will scoundrels like Muradov and Akhmedov be allowed to continue planning military actions to maintain appearances and win prizes at the cost of so many lives?”

Russian military commentators have also criticized the army’s approach in Donetsk.

“The situation in Pavlivka has been discussed at the highest level for several days, and the blood continues to flow,” Aleksandr Sladkov, a Russian military journalist who works for Russian State Television and Radio, said on Telegram.

“The troops now say there is a dilemma: depleted units cannot be withdrawn without new ones coming in. There are no new units and there is no possibility of withdrawal and replacement due to constant firing,” said Russian military journalist Alexey Sukonkin, also on Telegram. .

“Why did we retreat from Pavlivka and now have to retake it?” Aleksander Khodakovski, the Russian-backed commander of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, criticized Moscow’s tactical approach to the region.

Khodakovski said Russian troops were using the basements as defensive positions, which meant they saw no lateral movement by the Ukrainians.

“That’s why quite a few marines, including the company commanders, were then taken prisoner. Not because they were weak-minded, but because they hijacked the defense organization,” Khodakovsky said, adding that Ukrainian reconnaissance troops used nearby high-rise buildings in Vuhledar and cameras fixed at the top of mine shafts to guide artillery. the strikes

“Pavlivka’s defenders will be taken hostage again. Supplies and rotations will be difficult, it will be impossible to move from Pavlivka,” he said.

CNN cannot verify how many soldiers signed the letter or their ranks, but the governor of Kozhemya confirmed that he received a letter from the unit.

“We contacted our naval commanders on the front lines. These are the guys who have been fighting since the start of the operation,” the governor said on Telegram.

Kozhemyako added that the combat commander insisted (Primorsky) that the deaths of the troops were significantly exaggerated.

“I also know firsthand that our fighters in Pavlivka, as well as in the entire special military operation, showed true heroism and unprecedented courage. We did serious damage to the enemy.”

Kozhemyako said that the complaint made by the soldiers has been sent to the Military Prosecutor’s Office.

Russia’s Defense Ministry issued a rare public response to criticism of its military operation in Donetsk, denying that its forces had suffered “large and unnecessary losses in people and equipment”.

Russia’s losses in the Vuhledar and Pavlivka areas of the Donetsk region “do not exceed 1% of the combat force and 7% of the wounded, a significant part of which has already returned to duty,” the ministry said Monday, Russian state media reported. It was reported by the TASS agency.

Russian-backed military officials say Ukrainian forces are undermining the Kremlin's offensive in the Donetsk region.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the fierce battle for Donetsk “remains the epicenter of the occupiers’ greatest madness” and Kozhemyak said Moscow’s losses were “not so great”.

“Hundreds are being killed every day,” Zelensky added. “The ground in front of the Ukrainian positions is literally littered with the bodies of the occupiers.”

Zelensky said that the governor was 9,000 kilometers (about 5,500 miles) from the front lines: “The governor will probably see better from there how many soldiers and in what ways are sent to die from his region. Or he was simply ordered to lie.”

Social media and drone videos in recent days have shown scores of Russian tanks and other armored vehicles around Pavlivka, which is about 50 kilometers southwest of Donetsk and has been on the front lines for several months.

Ukraine’s military has released images of Ukrainian artillery and anti-tank systems showing two Russian T-72B tanks and three Russian BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles, senior officials said, referring to heavy shelling attacks in the area.

“The enemy is losing the opportunity to implement his plans,” Oleksii Hromov, deputy head of Ukraine’s General Operations Directorate, said on Thursday.