An elite Russian infantry unit has been decimated following several costly operations near a mining town in Ukraine’s disputed Donetsk Oblast that has become a focal point of the Kremlin’s renewed offensive.
On Sunday, British military officials said imagery intelligence shows that Russia’s 155th Naval Infantry (NI) Brigade recently sustained a number of concentrated vehicle losses outside Vuhledar, located about 50 miles southwest of Donetsk.
The Russian Naval Infantry “has been tasked with some of the toughest tactical missions in the war and has suffered extremely high casualties,” British military officials tweeted.
According to reports, the Russian NI tanks may have been disabled after driving through minefields created by the U.S.-supplied Remote Anti-Armor Mine System (RAAMS), a 155mm artillery shell filled with nine anti-tank mines each.
The U.S. has supplied Ukraine with more than 10,000 RAAMS shells as part of security assistance packages since the invasion a year ago.
Unlike other prestigious units, such as the airborne infantry, Russia’s Naval Infantry troops have not deployed as a single large formation in Ukraine. Instead, individual units have been attached to more conventional army formations.
“The supposedly enhanced capability of (Naval Infantry) brigades has now almost certainly been significantly degraded because it has been backfilled with inexperienced mobilized personnel,” British intelligence officials tweeted. “This lack of experience is almost certainly exacerbating Russian officers’ tendency to micromanage, which in turn reduces operational agility.”