The senior enlisted soldier in a Ukrainian brigade that lost multiple German Leopard tanks and American Bradley fighting vehicles in a bloody ambush last week claimed on Tuesday his unit is fighting well and its morale is good, in a rare breach of Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) rules banning public comment on combat operations by service personnel.

Valery Markus, Senior Master Sergeant of the 47th Infantry Brigade said, in an emotional 3:20 minute video released on Tuesday, June 13, that reports that his unit had been shot to pieces by Russian special forces infantry, artillery and helicopter gunships in fighting in the early hours of June 9 were false and for the most part Russian propaganda.

He claimed that the men and women of the 47th are, currently, attacking successfully in the Zaporizhzhia sector and were inflicting heavy casualties on Russian forces.

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“We are attacking, they are sitting in the defense. And as that goes on, they are taking casualties many times more than we are,” Markus stated in comments first published on his personal Telegram channel.

Markus said he had participated personally in recent ground attacks and that the soldiers and officers of the 47th are fighting fiercely. He said that reports that the unit was defeated or that its members ran from battle are unfounded, invented by Russian propaganda agencies, and republishing “such lies” is a direct attack on men and women risking their lives to defend Ukraine.

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“On the first day when they [Russian information platforms] announced that our brigade was broken, that we had 350 dead soldiers, that it was over, that our brigade no longer existed, in fact we had only five soldiers killed. This is a shining example about how shamelessly they lie,” Markus said.

According to Russian state-controlled information platforms, elements of the 47th Brigade were badly defeated and forced to flee during an unsuccessful June 9 nighttime assault near the Zaporizhzhia city of Orikhiv, and the town of Mala Tokmachka.

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Russia’s Defense Ministry said the battlefield failure was one of the worst suffered by the AFU during the entire war, and that more than 300 Ukrainian soldiers were killed after a Ukrainian attack group led by Leopard tanks stumbled into Russian minefields and then were cut to pieces by anti-tank missiles and artillery.

Military Watch Magazine’s headline about the battle screamed “Germany’s Top Tank Destroyed on Ukrainian Frontlines: Leopard 2A6 and Dozens of American Bradleys Taken Out”. The website mediabiasfactcheck.com considers the Military Watch Magazine to be highly biased towards the Russian Government’s narrative.

The open-source analysis group Geoconfirmed in a weekend estimate cited a Russian drone video as strong evidence that at least one Leopard 2 and four Bradleys, whose hulks were seen on the battlefield, as appearing to be total write-offs. The independent military watch group Oryx on June 10, citing multiple open sources, said that Ukrainian losses in the Orikhiv battle most likely were two Leopard tanks (one abandoned) and eleven Bradleys (ten abandoned).

Markus said the 47th is winning. “Just yesterday, in Tokmak, [a Zaporizhzhia city 20 km. south of the frontline] they [Russian medical evacuation teams] carried out from this sector, more than 100 dead soldiers. In just the last few days we have destroyed about 15 of their tanks, two Solntsepeks [the ToS-1A thermobaric rocket launcher], and how many of their BMPs [Russian infantry fighting vehicles], honestly, I haven’t counted,” Markus said.

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“As regards our people, no one has shown cowardice, the guys from 47th Brigade, fighters of the Magura [brigade], they’re fighting like lions. I have never seen such brave people in my life,” he said.

Ukrainian military sites over the weekend documented the destruction of at least one Solnetsepek and the capture of a Russian T-80 tank in the Zaporizhzhia area, but without geo-location to 47th brigade’s reported sector. Kyiv Post was unable to confirm Markus’ other claims about Russian losses.

Ukraine’s Army General Staff in a separate statement on June 13 said its attacking troops in the southern Tavriia sector were gaining ground and over the past 24 hours had advanced between 500 and 1,000 meters, liberating about three square kilometers of land from enemy control. Russian air strikes, minefields, anti-tank ditches, anti-tank missiles and kamikaze drones were slowing the advance but had not stopped it, the statement said.

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The AFU has practically banned independent media access to front-line combat units since March. Kyiv Post contacted Joint Forces Tavriia, 47th Brigade’s parent organization, with a request for comment about Markus’ allegations, without any immediate response. 

Equipped with a reported 90+ American Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, and having trained for months at Grafenwoehr Germany and other NATO military bases, the 47th Separate Mechanized Infantry Brigade “Magura” is one of the Ukraine’s highest profile combat formations. Prior to the launch of the AFU’s ongoing offensive, the 47th was considered likely to spearhead the main attack.

According to independent analysts, most of the combat vehicles lost by the 47th had hit land mines and appeared potentially to be repairable but they were abandoned in no-man’s land south of Mala Tokmachka [a suburban town close to the Orikhiv front line]. Russian social media platforms have published video seeming to show Russian troops in control of the abandoned tanks and infantry fighting vehicles. Ukrainian news platforms on were widely resending images of gleeful Russian infantry next to the abandoned fighting vehicles on June 13.

Markus on June 9 in a 14-second video had called on Ukrainian information platforms not to do that, telling the Ukrainian media to: “Shut up. The best thing would just be to shut up. So that later it won’t be necessary to apologize. 

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Some pro-Russia bloggers were quick to brand Markus’ appeal as “proof” that the AFU conceals information about losses and defeats from the public. Svetlana Wagner in a Facebook comment wrote: “Markus suggested all of Ukrainian media writing about the disaster of the Ukrainian counteroffensive in the Zaporizhia sector should shut up. It looks like the idea is that by muzzling news sources the Ukrainian military will stop the Leopards and Bradleys from burning. What a great plan.”

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