Ex-Russian general warns 'lies' may obscure the battlefield realities of how Ukraine's troops are gaining ground

  • An ex-Russian general said "lies" are obscuring the reality that Ukraine's troops are gaining ground.

  • Gurulyov confirmed that Ukraine has adapted to clear minefields and employ counter-drone attacks.

  • His Telegram message also said Russian victory is being prevented by "lies" and "false reporting."

An ex-Russian general acknowledged that Ukraine's troops are gaining ground on the battlefield, warning that lying and false reports in the military's highest echelons are keeping Moscow from achieving victory.

On Friday morning, Russian Parliament member and former deputy commander of the Southern Military District Andrey Gurulyov posted a message on Telegram assessing the state of Ukraine's counteroffensive more than three months after Kyiv officially launched its push against extensive eastern and southern Russian defenses. His points were sharply at odds with the victoriousness and censorship that often characterize Russian war commentary.

Gurulyov wrote that Ukraine's troops have changed their combat tactics, "have a lot of ammunition," and "are trying to burn out absolutely everything," according to a translation.

"They are no longer moving forward in large forces; they were obviously forbidden to lose heavy equipment en masse," he said, noting that the Ukrainians "have switched to squeeze-out tactics" and "are massively using cluster shells, inflicting damage on the stronger points of our units."

The "situation forces our troops to retreat deeper," Gurulyov added.

The ex-general's comments offer a blunt Russian view of the mounting counter-offensive fighting to get past Russia's tough defenses, particularly the complex defensive Surovikin Line just south of Orikhiv, a city in the southern Zaporizhzhia region. In late August and earlier this month, Kyiv's forces managed to make major breakthroughs in the area with the goal of striking a line all the way down to the Sea of Azov, splitting Russian occupied land in half.

It also adds weight to reports that Ukraine has learned to clear Russia's dense minefields, which posed a major roadblock earlier in the counteroffensive, and "have a lot of drones" that they use effectively both in counter-drone combat at the front line and deeper in Russian territory.

A Ukrainian soldier of 42nd Separate Mechanized Brigade puts camouflage on a tank's muzzle on September 11, 2023 in Eastern Ukraine, Ukraine.
A Ukrainian soldier of 42nd Separate Mechanized Brigade puts camouflage on a tank's muzzle on September 11, 2023 in Eastern Ukraine, Ukraine.Yan Dobronosov/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images

Gurulyov also suggests that Ukraine is having success deterring the attack helicopters that had stymied its early advance. They've "created conditions making it impossible to use anti-tank missiles by our helicopters," Gurulyov wrote, and used shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles like the US-made Stingers to strike Russian attack helicopters.

Gurulyov, a member of Russian President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party, has previously shared a Russian general's account that his troops were losing ground in artillery battles, a warning that would prove prescient.

In his Telegram message, Gurulyov warned about the state of war. While assuring Russian troops are stronger and will endure, adapt, and win, he added: "Victory is separated from us only by one serious problem of ours - lies. Yes, there is less of it than there was at the beginning of the SMO, but it is there."

SMO refers to "special military operation," the euphemism Russia has applied to its full-scale, devastating invasion of Ukraine now in its 19th month.

"False reports, unfortunately, lead to poor decisions at many levels," Gurulyov added, suggesting that Ukraine's advances and the reasons for them may not be getting reported up the chain of command, preventing a proper response. That's a problem that has plagued Russia's command since the beginning of their war in Ukraine.

Gurulyov previously made headlines for sharing an audio message from a senior Russian general saying he'd been dismissed from his post after questioning Defense Ministry decisions and raising concerns about the lack of counter-battery combat and mass casualties on the Russian side.

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