A video likely created by a Russian army service member recorded a Ukrainian cluster munitions strike, live, as it hit him and his unit.
The seven-minute video made during a Russian tank and infantry attack in a snowy, forested region was first posted on a Telegram channel called Russia No Context, a platform specializing in internet content about the Russian army in Ukraine.
Images likely taken by helmet cam show three tanks travelling through a pine forest along a dirt trail shortly after sunrise or near twilight.
Two registration rounds are audible followed by an accurate cluster munitions strike landing around the lead vehicle in the column.
Russian assault group in Kharkiv direction was being transported on tanks, and got hit by cluster munitions. After dismounting, chaos ensued as the group dispersed, some got wounded, and no one could understand where they were.— WarTranslated (Dmitri) (@wartranslated) January 11, 2024
Successful stop of a Russian attack before it… pic.twitter.com/uHTPy8ueVq
Although banned for use by most countries’ military services, both the Russian and Ukrainian have employed cluster munitions since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in Feb. 2022.
Cluster munitions commonly are carried in bombs, artillery shells or artillery rockets. They are designed to scatter submunitions over a target, saturating an area sometimes bigger than a football field with explosive charges.
Some cluster munitions are designed to scatter metal splinters to kill and wound soldiers, while others are designed to drop anti-armor explosives capable of taking out a tank.
Controversially, US President Joe Biden in July 2023 announced Washington was sending cluster munitions to Ukraine. Soldiers on both sides consider the weapon highly dangerous due to the large area munition’s charges cover, and the fact that the blast goes directly downward into otherwise relatively-safe trenches.
The video at the 37 second mark records more than a dozen submunitions detonating almost instantaneously and sparks flying from a probable hit to the tank the soldier recording the video was riding on. At least two soldiers are wounded in the explosions.
As the Russian soldiers seek cover other, artillery and other, unidentified explosions in the vicinity are audible. A second, probable cluster munitions strike takes place at the 2:11 mark.
In later conversation the Russian soldiers make negative comments about the battle situation, and express confusion about the locations of friendly and enemy troops. At the 3:00 mark the soldier, carrying the recording camera states: “Everything went not according to plan. Absolutely.”
Using vulgar language the soldier, probably a small unit commander, says that his unit was hit with cluster munitions. A third cluster munition strike is audible at the 3:33 mark. Two more possible, but unconfirmed cluster munition strikes are audible at the 04:05 and 07:30 marks.
The video later records small arms fire and the soldiers’ retreat. The video recorder expresses frustration about not knowing who is shooting and at what.
Video of artillery strikes, usually recorded by drones, are commonplace in the Russo-Ukraine war. Video of cluster munition strikes are uncommon but regularly posted by fighters from both sides to the internet.
Publicly-released recordings of a cluster munition strike hitting around a person making the recording live, on a Ukrainian battlefields, is rare. Video of personally-experienced multiple cluster munitions strikes is practically unheard of.
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