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Putin's Elite Soldiers Getting Wiped Out as Russia Makes Mistakes—U.K.

Newsweek 5/26/2022 Brendan Cole
This Swedish Air Force hand Out image show Russian fighter jets violating Swedish airspace east of the Swedish Baltic Sea island of Gotland on March 22., 2022. © Getty Images This Swedish Air Force hand Out image show Russian fighter jets violating Swedish airspace east of the Swedish Baltic Sea island of Gotland on March 22., 2022.

Mistakes made by Russia's airborne forces, the VDV, in the invasion of Ukraine show how Vladimir Putin's investment in his military has resulted in an "unbalanced overall force," Britain's defense ministry said.

In its daily assessment, U.K defense officials said that since the start of the war, the VDV has been involved in "several notable tactical failures."

These include the attempted advance on Kyiv via Hostomel Airfield in March, stalled progress on the Izium axis since April, and the failed and costly crossings of the Seversky Donets River.

The 45,000-strong VDV, which mostly consists of professional contract soldiers who have elite status, are assigned to the most demanding operations. However, they have been used on missions better suited to heavier armored infantry and have sustained heavy casualties during the campaign.

British defense officials said that this "mixed performance" was a reflection of "a strategic mismanagement of this capability and Russia's failure to secure air superiority."

"The misemployment of the VDV" shows the extent to which "Putin's significant investment in the armed forces over the last 15 years has resulted in an unbalanced overall force."

The U.K. Ministry of Defence concluded that Russia's failure to anticipate Ukrainian resistance "and the subsequent complacency of Russian commanders" has caused "significant losses" across Russia's more elite units.


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Meanwhile, a separate assessment by the U.S. think tank the Institute for the Study of War (IWS) said that Russian forces are using aircraft to strike Ukrainian infrastructure because they are "increasingly facing a deficiency in high-precision weaponry. "

In its daily update, it cited the Ukrainian general staff's view that an increasing lack of high-precision weapons means Russian forces "are seeking other methods of striking critical infrastructure and have intensified the use of aircraft to support offensives."

It said that this chimed with reports from Western defense officials that Russian forces have been increasingly relying on "dumb bombs" because sanctions have made it tougher to replenish supplies of precision munitions.

However, it warned that a growing lack of high-precision weapons is likely to cause "an increase in indiscriminate attacks on critical and civilian infrastructure." Newsweek has contacted Russia's defense ministry for comment.

The Joint Task Force of Ukraine's armed forces said on Thursday that Russian forces had attacked more than 40 towns in the eastern Donbass and Luhansk regions, destroying or damaging 47 civilian buildings. This hasn't been independently verified.

After failing to seize Kyiv and Kharkiv, Russia is trying to take full control of the Donbass.

Russia has sent thousands of troops into the region, attacking from three sides to try to encircle Ukrainian forces holding out in the cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, whose fall would put the whole of the Luhansk province under Russian control.

Meanwhile, Putin has signed a decree simplifying the process for people in newly captured districts to acquire Russian citizenship and passports.

On Wednesday, the Russian parliament ended the upper age limit for contractual military service as Russia's forces face the need to replenish lost troop numbers.

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