This article by Sinéad Baker was originally published by Business Insider.
Russia is losing many of its elite troops due to expected Ukrainian resistance and “complacency” among its commanders, according to UK intelligence.
“The failure to anticipate Ukrainian resistance and the subsequent complacency of Russian commanders has led to significant losses across many of Russia’s more elite units,” the UK Ministry of Defence said in a Thursday update.
It said that issues with the work of Russia’s elite airborne troops, or VDV, in Ukraine showed how Russia’s army has been “unbalanced” in the way Russia invests in it.
It said the VDV had been used in situations where “heavier armored infantry” would have been more suitable, and as a result “has sustained heavy casualties during the campaign.”
“Its mixed performance likely reflects a strategic mismanagement of this capability and Russia’s failure to secure air superiority,” it said.
It also said that the VDV “have been heavily involved in several notable tactical failures since the start of Russia’s invasion.”
Russia failed to meet its strategic aims from the onset of the invasion, failing to capture key parts of the country as it expected, and with Russia ceding control of many areas back to Ukraine three months on.
What started as an assault on much of Ukraine, including the capital Kyiv, has turned into a battle focused in the east, near Russia’s border. Western intelligence has noted that Russia had expected a quick victory in its invasion and that it did not expect strong resistance from Ukraine.
The exact number of Russian troop losses is unknown, as Russia has not shared them. The U.K. defense ministry estimated that Russia has lost a third of its forces.
A BBC investigation in April found that Russia’s army was losing many elite troops, which are extremely expensive and lost a lot of money to train.
Retired Adm. James Stavridis, former NATO supreme allied commander for Europe, also said earlier this month that “in modern history, there is no situation comparable in terms of the deaths of generals.”
A Russian veterans group recently criticized Russia’s so-called “special military operation” a failure, and said it needed to officially declare war on Ukraine and mobilize additional forces.
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