documents discovered at the former base reveal the difficulties and shortcomings of Russian troops

Russian troops, who occupied Balaklia in eastern Ukraine since March, set up their headquarters in a car repair center. The city was liberated by Ukrainian forces in early September. According to Reuters news agency, after the occupier left, thousands of pages of documents were discovered in the basement of the now destroyed building. (Article in English), Wednesday, October 26. Reading them reveals the delicate situation in which the Russian military finds itself in Ukraine’s lightning counterattacks in the region.

Things got complicated for Russian forces in Balaklia on July 19 when a colony of Ukrainian soldiers attacked the village of Grakove near their base. According to a report consulted by Reuters, it was only thanks to the reinforcement of attack helicopters that they managed to get their opponents to withdraw, but at the cost of heavy losses: 7 dead, 39 wounded and 17 missing. Several Russian soldiers needed treatment for “acute stress reaction”according to the medical document found on the spot.

The territory is regularly targeted by the Himars multi-missile systems provided to Ukraine by the United States, which play an important role in Ukraine’s counterattack. Between late July and late August, Russian troops lost three of five military drones, five of eight armored vehicles, and 18 of 24 anti-tank weapons. “There was no ammunition or drones”Russian officer found by Reuters commented.

In a daily situation update, in late July, a Russian officer requested Quadcopter drones available online or in stores. Three of them arrived the next day, but they didn’t have the software they needed to use. According to Balaklia’s unit responsible for electronic warfare, Ukrainian forces, in turn, benefited from the loophole, as two of the three Russian jammers were decommissioned.

As of late August, and despite the troop deployment, domestic manpower on the Russian side equaled just over 70% of planned capacity, according to a schedule consulted by Reuters. In addition, the two divisions were operating at only 20% of their strength due to combat losses and desertions.. The manuscript note specifically mentions a soldier shooting himself out of the hand to escape battle.

The maintenance of law and order in the city was entrusted to the militias of the Luhansk region, which were especially poorly equipped and paid. One of the separatist fighters injured his finger in an accident with an outdated and long-discontinued Mosin rifle. In addition, separatist sergeants received 91,000 rubles (about 1,500 euros) per month, compared to 202,000 rubles (about 3,300 euros) for their Russian counterparts, according to an accounting document found in the bunker.

Reuters writes that Colonel Ivan Popov of the 11th Baltic Corps was in command of Russian forces in the area, and the base housed a detention center. But the commander was also responsible for controlling the local population. He is accused of personally overseeing several interrogations of civilians at the city police station. They were beaten and subjected to electric shocks, according to the testimony of former prisoners collected by Reuters.

On September 6, the base was targeted by Ukrainian strikes, resulting in the death of dozens of Russian soldiers. Two days later, the survivors finally left the scene “in chaos”, according to residents interviewed by Reuters. During this hasty departure, some of the documents were burned, and some were in the oven. The cars parked in the shed were also engulfed in smoke.

Shortly after the liberation of Balaklia, a team from the French Televisions managed to reach the town through side roads. He had observeda lot of hollow tanks, but also ammunition dropped on the spot by the Russians”. The city was almost deserted and partially destroyed. The Russian base had to be cleared by Ukrainian forces. Knowing that they were in a precarious position on this front line, the former residents had filled the place with explosives.

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