The Russian military has denounced “unfathomable fighting” in Donetsk after suffering heavy casualties during weeks of fighting in eastern Ukraine.
Moscow has been trying to break through Kyiv’s defenses around the town of Pavlivka for at least seven days, but little progress appears to have been made with 300 men killed in action, according to an open letter published in a prominent Russian newspaper. military blog on Monday.
Men of the Russian Pacific Navy’s 155th Brigade have lashed out at senior Russian officials in a rare show of defiance, accusing officials of “covering up” their numbers. the dead “because of the fear of being responsible”.
The letter, said to have been sent from the front lines to a Russian governor in the region, comes amid a wave of Moscow’s offensive in a region declared by President Vladimir Putin but it was illegally imported only a month ago.
“Once again we were thrown into an incomprehensible war between General Muradov and his brother-in-law, his compatriot Akhmedov, so that Muradov could get a reward to make him look good in the eyes of Gerasimov (Chief of the General Staff of Russia), ” said the men in the memo, sent to the governor of Primorsky Krai.
“As a result of the planned attack by the ‘big leaders’ we lost about 300 men, killed and wounded, with some MIA in four days.
“We lost 50% of our equipment. That’s our only brigade. The district commander together with Akhmedov hides these facts and distorts the official death statistics for fear of accountability.”
They pleaded with Governor Oleg Kozhemyako: “How long will simpletons like Muradov and Akhmedov be allowed to continue planning military operations just to keep up appearances and get awards at the cost of their lives?” “many people?”
Russian military commentators have also criticized the military’s approach in Donetsk.
“The situation in Pavlivka has been discussed at the highest level for several days, and the bloodshed continues,” said Aleksandr Sladkov, a Russian military correspondent working for All-Russian State Television and Radio. on Telegram.
“The army says that there is a problem now: it is not possible to remove the extinct group without the new ones being brought in.” .
“Why did we leave Pavlivka and now have to take it again?” Aleksander Khodakovsky, a Russian-backed military leader from the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, criticized Moscow’s strategic approach to the region.
Khodakovsky said that Russian forces used basements as defensive positions, which meant that they did not see any lateral movement by the Ukrainians.
“That’s why a few Marines, including the company commander, were taken prisoner. Not because they are soft, but because they were held hostage by their defense organization,” Khodakovsky said, adding that Ukrainian intelligence officers used a high-rise building in nearby Vuhledar and a camera was installed on top of the mine shaft to guide weapons. strike.
“The defenders of Pavlivka will be taken hostage again.” Supply and rotation will be difficult, it will be impossible to move through Pavlivka,” he said.
CNN could not confirm the number of soldiers who signed the letter or their rank, but Governor Kozhemyako confirmed that he had received a letter from the group.
“We contacted the Navy commander on the front line. These are men who have been fighting since the beginning of the movement,” the governor said in a Telegram.
Kozhemyako added that the war commander insisted that the death of the soldier (Primorsky) was excessive.
“I also know that our fighters at Pavlivka, and during the entire special military operation, showed true bravery and unprecedented bravery. We inflicted heavy damage on the enemy.
Kozhemyako said the soldiers’ complaints were sent to the military prosecutor’s office.
Russia’s defense minister has issued a rare public response to criticism of the military operation in Donetsk, denying that its forces have suffered “large and senseless losses of men and equipment.”
“Russia’s losses in Vuhledar and Pavlivka regions of Donetsk region are not more than 1% of fighting strength and 7% of wounded they have returned to work,” the ministry said on Monday, according to Russian state media. TASS agency reports.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the fierce battle for Donetsk “remains at the heart of the occupiers’ biggest folly” and disputed Kozhemyako’s claim that Moscow’s losses were “not that big”.
“Hundreds of them die every day,” Zelensky added. “The ground in front of the Ukrainian position is literally littered with the dead bodies of the occupiers.”
Noting that the governor is about 9,000 kilometers (about 5,500 miles) from the border, Zelensky said: “The governor probably sees better then the number of the soldiers and how to send killings from their areas. Or he was just told to lie.
It shows Russian tanks and other battered vehicles around Pavlivka, which is about 50 kilometers southwest of Donetsk and has been on the front line for months social media and drone footage in recent days.
Ukrainian troops have released images showing a Russian T-72B tank and three BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles hit by Ukrainian artillery and anti-tank systems, with senior officials describing the attack heavily armed in the area.
“The enemy is losing time to implement his plan,” Oleksii Hromov, deputy director of the General Staff Service of Ukraine, said on Thursday.