- The same Russian brigade has been destroyed and reconstituted 8 times since the start of the war.
- The Russian 155th Naval Infantry Brigade suffered heavy losses in attempts to take Vuhledar.
- Russian failures in Vuhledar have sparked rare criticism from the country’s military bloggers.
An elite Russian brigade has been destroyed and reformed as many as eight times since the start of the war, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a Washington-based think tank, said in a report on Friday.
The Russian 155th Naval Infantry Brigade has been repeatedly destroyed partly due to losses it has faced during Russia’s efforts to take the town of Vuhledar in eastern Ukraine.
At one point the entire brigade, which consisted of 5,000 troops, was reported to be destroyed near Vuhledar.
Soldiers were killed, wounded, or taken prisoner, Oleksiy Dmytrashkivskyi, head of the united press center of the Tavriskiy District of Ukrainian defense forces, told Politico on February 12.
Dmytrashkivskyi estimated at the time that Russian forces were losing 150-300 marines a day near the coal-mining town.
The town of Vuhledar has been the center of intense fighting in January and February as Russian troops have repeatedly attempted and failed to seize it. Sporadic fighting has continued since mid-February, but at a lower intensity.
Russian forces have experienced high casualties in Vuhledar and have lost dozens of vehicles. Videos have emerged of Russian tanks and armored vehicles repeatedly being blown up by mines and anti-tank missiles near the town.
Russia’s tactical errors and battlefield losses even sparked rare criticism from Russian military bloggers, despite the fact that criticizing the war is outlawed in Russia.
The ISW noted that intense criticism about Russian failures in Vuhledar was re-emerging following the failed assaults in the early months of the year, and ongoing fears about a possible Ukrainian counteroffensive.
Some of these military bloggers have criticized the Russian military command for ordering ineffective human-wave style frontal assaults in Vuhledar, according to ISW.
This tactic, which involves an initial frontal assault followed by assaults against fortified Ukrainian flanks, has led to little gains and high combat losses due to the challenging terrain, a lack of combat power, and failure to surprise Ukrainian forces.