A Russian Marine Brigade would have lost 63 soldiers in a doomed two-day assault on Ukrainian positions in eastern Ukraine on or before November 4.
It was apparently one of the worst single-operation casualties for Russia’s small marine corps since before the Chechen wars in the 1990s.
Worse still for the Kremlin’s war effort, the Russian marines – or “naval infantry”, if you will – are among its best troops left after eight months of bitter war against an increasingly determined, experienced and well armed.
Russia better forces are building up in Ukraine, leaving the worse forces – including the 300,000 disgruntled and unfit conscripts the army rounded up this fall – to do more fighting.
The doomed Russian assault targeted the Ukrainian garrison at Pavlivka, 45 km southwest of Donetsk, in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine. The garrison repelled the Russian attack, the Ukrainian General Staff reported on Friday.
The 155th Guards Naval Infantry Brigade of the Russian Pacific Fleet has been the main Russian formation along this sector since this summer. The brigade, based in Vladivostok, has been in Ukraine since Russia expanded its eight-year war against Ukraine in late February.
The brigade with its 3,000 troops and hundreds of T-80 tanks, BMP-3 and BTR-82 combat vehicles, mortars and artillery was part of the Russian force that unsuccessfully attempted to capture Kyiv in the first weeks of the wider war. .
Beaten by the strengthening Ukrainian defense, its supply lines fraying, the brigade joined the Russian retreat from Kyiv Oblast in April. The 155th Guards Naval Infantry Brigade withdrew to Belarus and then redeployed to the Donbass, where it threw its remaining battalions into the Ukrainian defenses between Yehorivka and Pavlivka.
It didn’t always go well for the Marines. Video circulating in August shows two of the 155th Guards Naval Infantry Brigade’s BMPs driving through a field towards Yehorivka and setting off powerful anti-tank mines.
Another video, from the Ukrainian Army’s 72nd Mechanized Brigade, is essentially a destruction montage as T-80s and BMPs from the 155th Guards Naval Infantry Brigade explode.
But the worst losses came later, as the marine brigade tried to tear the Ukrainians from Pavlivka. The Ukrainians would have had artillery superiority – a reversal of the pre-war balance of power and a testament to the Ukrainian army’s months-long effort to target supply lines and gun batteries. artillery.
Without enough 122 millimeter shells, the 155th Guards Naval Infantry Brigade could not suppress the Ukrainian big guns. His soldiers are defenseless. “Either the country will mass-produce 122-millimeter shells or it will mass-produce coffins,” a Russian officer told a blogger in reference to the Pavlivka fight.
It should be noted that along most of the front stretching from Donbass in the south to Kherson Oblast on the Black Sea coast – a distance of hundreds of kilometers – Russian forces are withdrawing or mostly dig, without attacking. The double Ukrainian counter-offensives which began in the east and south at the end of August put them to flight.
In the few places where Russian troops attack – Pavlivka and also Bakhmut – they suffer heavy losses… and gain nothing.