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Russian explosions point to Ukraine's embrace of the British special forces model

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 4/25/2022 Tom Rogan
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Storage tanks at a major oil depot in the Russian city of Bryansk exploded early on Monday. Was Ukraine responsible?

Before you answer, consider first that this is only the latest disaster to afflict Russian critical infrastructure near the Ukrainian border. Another oil depot on Belgorod was targeted by a Ukrainian helicopter strike in early April. Prior to that, Russian railway lines near the border were sabotaged. A Russian missile research center and a chemical plant also recently suffered explosions.

These incidents all appear to fit well with Ukraine's military strategy.

Bryansk, 62 miles from the Ukrainian border, is beyond the range of most drone systems in Ukraine's possession. Unconfirmed video from the Bryansk incident indicates the sound of a missile in the terminal attack phase. Considering this noise and Bryansk's relative distance from Ukraine, short-range ballistic missiles may have been responsible. Regardless, the explosion will disrupt energy replenishment efforts for Russian military forces in Ukraine.

The explosion also dilutes Putin's credibility in claiming that his war on Ukraine is not a war, but rather a limited "special military operation." When stuff keeps blowing up in Russian cities, it's hard to convince the residents of said cities that Russia isn't at war.

That takes us to Ukraine's evolving military strategy. With Russia forced to scale back its goals in the conflict, Ukraine has escalated its offensive operations in what's known as the "deep battlespace." This involves targeting of Russian logistics and command and control units deeper behind the front lines. Employing Western-provided drones and highly mobile small units, Ukraine is degrading and demoralizing Russia's war machine.

It's not a wild leap to expect that Ukraine is now applying these same tactics over the border inside Russia. This is likely a result of British training of the Ukrainian military.

After all, while British military forces are not directly engaged in combat against Russian forces, they have been training Ukrainian forces for years. This includes training by British special forces, which prioritize deep battlespace operations. Going back to the British Army's 22nd Special Air Service Regiment in North Africa during the Second World War, British Special Forces revel in action deep behind enemy lines. Operating without support and relying on mobility and stealth, the SAS has repeatedly proven that small units can create havoc.

The compromise of an SAS unit during the Gulf War, shows that these operations are high-risk. But whether or not the Bryansk incident involved Ukrainian forces on the ground in Russia, it seems clear that other incidents behind Russian lines do involve Ukrainian ground forces.

Havoc is certainly what we're seeing in Russian border areas right now. Ukraine seems to be trying to cut off Russian forces from their logistics trains, while also bringing the war home for Russians who might otherwise be fooled by the fiction of Putin's so-called "special operation."

 

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Tags: Opinion, Beltway Confidential, National Security, Foreign Policy, Russia, War in Ukraine, Special Forces, Britain

Original Author: Tom Rogan

Original Location: Russian explosions point to Ukraine's embrace of the British special forces model

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