Health & Fitness Journal —
Russian troops have denounced an “incomprehensible battle” in Donetsk after suffering what appeared to be heavy casualties during a week of intense fighting in Ukraine’s key eastern region.
Moscow has been attempting to breach Kiev’s defenses around the town of Pavlivka for at least the past seven days, but little progress appears to have been made as up to 300 men were killed in combat, according to an open letter written about a prominent figure Russians was published military blog on Monday.
The men of the 155th Brigade of the Russian Pacific Fleet Naval Infantry slammed a senior Russian official in a rare show of defiance, accusing the authorities of “concealing” the number of casualties “for fear of being held accountable.”
The letter, said to have been sent from the front lines to a regional Russian governor, came amid Moscow’s shaky offensive in a region President Vladimir Putin claimed he illegally annexed just over a month ago.
“Once again, we were thrown into an incomprehensible struggle by General Muradov and his brother-in-law, his compatriot Akhmedov, so that Muradov could earn bonuses for making him look good in the eyes of Gerasimov (Russia’s Chief of General Staff). ” the men said in the memo sent to the governor of the Primorsky Krai.
“As a result of the ‘carefully’ planned offensive by the ‘big commanders’ we have lost about 300 men, dead and wounded, with some MIA in the last four days.
“We lost 50% of our equipment. This is our brigade alone. The district command, together with Akhmedov, hides these facts and distorts official casualty statistics for fear of being held accountable.”
They begged Governor Oleg Kozhemyako: “How long will such mediocrities as Muradov and Achmedov be allowed to continue planning military actions just for the sake of appearances and awards, at the cost of so many lives?”
Russian military commentators have also criticized the army’s actions in Donetsk.
“The situation in Pavlivka has been discussed at the highest level for several days and blood continues to flow,” Aleksandr Sladkov, a Russian military journalist working for All-Russian State TV and Radio, told Telegram.
“Troops say there is now a dilemma: exhausted units cannot be withdrawn without bringing in new ones. There are no fresh units and no possibility of withdrawal and replacement due to constant shelling,” Russian military journalist Alexey Sukonkin also wrote on Telegram.
“Why did we withdraw from Pavlivka and now we have to retake it?” Aleksander Khodakowski, a Russian-backed commander from the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, criticized Moscow’s tactical approach in the region.
Chodakovsky said Russian troops used basements as defensive positions, meaning they saw no flanking movement from Ukrainians.
“That’s why a number of Marines, including company commanders, were captured at the time. Not because they were weak in spirit, but because they were being held hostage by their defense organization,” Khodakovsky said, adding that Ukrainian reconnaissance troops used high-rise buildings in nearby Vuhledar and cameras at the tops of mine shafts to guide artillery strikes.
“The defenders of Pavlivka are again taken hostage. Deliveries and rotations will be difficult, it will be impossible to move through Pavlivka,” he said.
Health & Fitness Journal cannot verify how many soldiers signed the letter, nor their ranks, but Governor Kozhemyako confirmed he had received a letter from the unit.
“We have contacted our naval commanders at the front. These are people who have been in combat since the beginning of the operation,” the governor said on Telegram.
Kozhemyako added that the combat commander emphasized that the (Primorsky) troops’ deaths were significantly exaggerated.
“I also know firsthand that in Pavlivka, as well as throughout the military special operation, our fighters showed real heroism and unprecedented courage. We inflicted heavy damage on the enemy.”
Kozhemyako said the soldiers’ complaint was forwarded to the military prosecutor’s office.
The Russian Defense Ministry issued a rare public response to criticism of the military operation in Donetsk, denying that its forces suffered “heavy, senseless losses in men and equipment.”
Russia’s losses in the Vuhledar and Pavlivka oblasts of the Donetsk region “do not exceed 1% of combat strength and 7% of the wounded, a significant part of which has already returned to service,” the ministry claimed on Monday to state-run Russian media, The reported the agency TASS.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the fierce battle over Donetsk “remains the epicenter of the occupiers’ greatest madness” and dismissed Kozhemyako’s claims that Moscow’s losses were “not that great”.
“They die by the hundreds every day,” added Zelenskyy. “The ground in front of the Ukrainian positions is literally littered with the bodies of the occupying forces.”
Noting that the governor was about 9,000 kilometers from the front lines, Zelenskyy said: “The governor can probably see better from there how many military personnel are being sent from his region and in what way to carry out slaughter.” Or he was simply ordered to lie.”
Social media and drone videos over the past few days show numerous attacks by Russian tanks and other armored vehicles around Pavlivka, which is around 50 kilometers southwest of Donetsk and has been on the front line for several months.
The Ukrainian military released footage showing two Russian T-72B tanks and three BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles hit by Ukrainian artillery and anti-tank systems, with senior officials citing repelled attacks with intense shelling in the area.
“The enemy misses the opportunity to implement their plans,” Oleksii Hromov, deputy chief of the Operations Directorate of Ukraine in the General Staff, said on Thursday.