Putin army 'sacrificing Russian soldiers in infantry-heavy attacks' to save armoured vehicles

Putin army 'sacrificing Russian soldiers in infantry-heavy attacks' to save armoured vehicles

Vladimir Putin’s military chiefs are sacrificing Russian soldiers in “infantry-heavy” attacks to protect their stock of armoured vehicles, say defence experts.

The Institute for the Study of War stressed that Russia’s top brass appeared to be building up reserve forces to “backfill” heavy battlefield losses so that a summer offensive can be launched without “taking a significant operational pause” from more limited spring attacks.

In a new briefing, the Washington-based think tank tweeted: “The Russian military command appears to be forming reserves capable of sustaining ongoing offensive operations in Ukraine, but these reserves are unlikely to be able to function as cohesive large-scale penetration or exploitation formations this year.”

It also stressed: “Large-scale Russian manpower losses are likely more significant than armoured vehicle losses at this point in the war, particularly since Russian forces adjusted their tactics and transitioned to infantry-heavy ground attacks to conserve armoured vehicles at the expense of greater manpower losses in fall (autumn) 2023.”

The update added: “It is unclear what kind of “strategic reserve” Russia is forming based on open-source reporting but known Russian manpower and material limitations suggest that Russia will likely not commit these “strategic reserves” as a cohesive formation to fighting in Ukraine but will instead use them as a manpower pool to replenish losses along the frontline.

“The formation of additional reserves would likely allow the Russian military to backfill losses in Ukraine without taking a significant operational pause between Russia’s ongoing localized offensive efforts this spring and Russia’s anticipated summer 2024 offensive effort, which ISW previously assessed Russian forces are attempting to avoid despite difficult weather and terrain conditions.”

The ISW also emphasised that Russian “offensive tactics will likely increasingly pressure” Ukrainian defences “as long as delays in Western security assistance persist,” leaving them with munitions’ shortages.

Republicans in Washington have faced heavy criticism from Joe Biden’s administration, Ukraine, Britain and other allies for blocking a huge new military aid package for Kyiv.

Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron went as far as warning the Republicans not to show “the weakness displayed against Hitler” ahead of the Second World War.

British defence chiefs say advances by Putin’s forces in eastern Ukraine have slowed but a shortage of munitions for Ukrainian troops is hampering their efforts to hold some of their defensive positions.

The speed of the Russian operations is assessed to have reduced partly due to the Russian army suffering “heavy losses” when seizing the city of Avdiivka in the Donetsk province.

Russian troops were believed to be seeking now to capture a number of villages near Donetsk city including Orlivka, Tonenke, Pervomaiske, and Nevelske.

Putin’s army was hit with record losses of nearly 1,000 soldiers killed or wounded a day as it took ground in Ukraine in February, including Avdiivka, say western officials.