Russia repeats battle tactic that failed Bucha and loses critical tanks

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Russia lost 130 tanks during three weeks of fighting near Vuhledar, according to Ukrainian officials. The country repeated previous tactical mistakes that had caused it to lose dozens of critical vehicles. An expert on US-Soviet relations told Insider that Russia’s new offensive was “half-baked”. Something is loading.

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The biggest tank battle of the Russo-Ukrainian war so far has proven to be another humiliating misstep for Russia,

Ukrainian military officials said this week that Russia lost at least 130 armored vehicles in fighting outside the mining town of Vuhledar earlier this year, according to The New York Times. The battle saw Russia rely on an early tank tactic – a tactic that thwarted the country at Bucha last year – sending columns of military vehicles straight into enemy territory where an ambush awaited.

“It is striking that they are repeating a mistake that I would have thought was an extremely painful mistake that they would learn from during the early days of the war,” said Simon Miles, assistant professor at the University’s Sanford School of Public Policy. Duke. and a historian of the Soviet Union and US-Soviet relations.

Photos and videos of the three-week tank battle outside Vuhledar in the Donetsk region, where Russia launched its latest offensive in January, show armored vehicles fighting each other and being reduced in pieces.

Mistakes in Bucha

As both Ukraine and Russia prepared to launch new offensives in recent months, tanks, a long important status symbol of Russian military power, have become increasingly important, both symbolically and strategically. . Russia has called in Cold War-era military vehicles for its offensive, the Times says, in stark contrast to Ukraine, which is expecting Western tanks from distant allies expected to arrive on the battlefield. In the coming months.

But long before Vuhledar’s staggering losses, Russian tank failures were evident just weeks into the war. The country’s attacks on Bucha, a suburb of Ukraine’s capital, failed to capture Kyiv and ensure Putin a quick victory.

In what became a 35-mile line of armored vehicles outside Bucha in February 2022, more than 100 Russian military vehicles descended on the town, which was the site of massacres and several alleged human rights atrocities rights during a month earlier in the war.

According to the BBC, the apparent convoy, which the Ukrainian Armed Forces said was actually made up of 10 separate tactical battalion units belonging to Russia, ultimately failed to capture Kyiv after a chaotic traffic jam forced the troops to retreat.

Tactical and military experts told the outlet that Russia’s initial plan relied on secrecy and speed, but Russian President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to keep his plans hidden would prove costly: Last-minute orders meant the troops were left without adequate communications technology and ill-equipped to deal with the cold weather. The long line of tanks drove straight into the mud of Bucha, unable to advance and forced to divert to more open roads, where, with little communication between the battalions, a traffic jam ensued, according to the BBC.

At its peak, the column outside Bucha was 35 miles long with up to 1,000 tanks, 2,400 mechanized infantry vehicles and 10,000 troops, the outlet reported. Ukraine quickly succeeded in blowing up bridges and dams in front of the convoy, according to the BBC, forcing the Russians to reorient aimlessly.

Russian troops, along with their tanks, began to withdraw at the end of March. Shortly after, Ukraine defeated two of the largest battalions present near Hostomel airport and another 370 tent army trucks were destroyed by artillery, the newspaper reported, representing startling early losses for Russia.

Soldiers walk among destroyed Russian tanks in Bucha, on the outskirts of kyiv, Ukraine, April 3, 2022. Photo/Rodrigo Abd, Lessons Not Learned File

The Battle of Vuhledar also proved unsuccessful for Russia, which again sent in columns of tanks which Ukrainian troops fired at from a distance, hiding out of sight of the long convoy, The Times reported this week. Just like at Bucha, Russia failed to capture its target at Vuhledar, making the same mistake that already cost it dozens of tanks a year ago.

It’s one of the most glaring mistakes in what Miles called the “half-baked” Russian offensive being played out in Vuhledar and eastern Ukraine. He attributed the missteps to Putin’s growing impatience, suggesting the Russian president sacked his top general, Sergei Surovikin, in mid-January because he disagreed with the leader’s plan military, which would have seen Russia switch to defense while Ukraine launched its offensive, awaiting the arrival on the battlefield of the second tranche of mobilized Russians, apparently better trained than their predecessors.

Instead, the Russians continue to make the very mistake that Surovikin seemed to hope Ukraine might make: launching a premature offensive without the reserves to carry it out.

The Ukrainians, meanwhile, are in a better position to absorb Russian attacks and launch their own offensive, especially with the promise of more Western weapons on the way.

“I think Putin’s impatience is going to cost them dearly,” Miles said. “At least in terms of opportunity cost, because the offense is so under-prepared that they won’t be able to exploit significantly against it, or because they will be much more susceptible to the Ukrainians.”

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