Top Moscow propagandist Vladimir Solovyev in a Thursday evening broadcast demanded that Russian military bloggers responsible for making public video of a recent Russian tank assault’s near-total annihilation by Ukrainian drones and criticizing army leadership for allowing the battlefield disaster to happen be “destroyed – just eliminated.”

As anchorman on a nightly news program aired nationwide on the Kremlin-controlled Russia-1 television channel, Solovyev is the highest-profile advocate of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its elimination as an independent state.

“They [Russian milbloggers] are spreading around video showing [Ukrainian] strikes on our combat vehicles. I say those people need to be arrested and put in jail. Who are they doing this for? For our soldiers? For our commanders? Are they trying to help? No! They are here, dragging Russian society into negative information,” Solovyev said in his daily Vblog Polniy Kontakt.

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“These people need to be identified and jailed. All these people on Telegram, bloggers… they are enemies and they must be fought with by the most brutal methods. If you are spreading disinformation, you should be destroyed – just eliminated,” Solovyev said.

Ukrainian military information platforms on Monday and Tuesday published drone video of a Jan. 30 Russian tank and armored personnel carrier attack against positions held by Ukraine’s 72nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade near the Donbas town Novomykhailivka.

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Russian video of the ambitious attack, published on Monday, showed a heavy TOS-1 armored flamethrower tank launching rockets and Russian air strikes on Ukrainian positions. According to Russian “war correspondent” Boris Rozhin, Kremlin forces led off the assault with a truck rigged to make a thick smoke screen along the road the armored attack was to follow, and early official Russian army statements claimed the assault gained almost a kilometer of ground.

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Ukrainian images published a day later, geolocated to the road and fields east of the town showed at least 12 Russian armored vehicles, among them three tanks, advancing in a well-separated column before coming under attack repeatedly by kamikaze drones.

Most of the hits depicted show a light quad-copter drone with a Soviet-era RPG anti-tank rocket grenade strapped to the bottom of the aircraft hitting the relative thin side or rear armor of Russian T-72 tanks or MTLB armored personnel carriers. Russian vehicles are equipped with anti-drone screens, but the Ukrainian aircraft repeatedly avoid the screens by flying underneath them.

A 2:25-minute compilation video published by an attack drone unit called Bulava showed five drone strikes on T-72s, multiple hits on personnel carriers, and drones hunting down and detonating near retreating Russian foot soldiers.

Other Ukrainian video showed two stopped Russian tank-sized vehicles visibly similar to a TOS-1 heavy flamethrower, one burning. More images showed artillery strikes and drone attacks against apparently abandoned and stationary Russian tanks and armored personnel carriers littering the battlefield.

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Information published with the Bulava video said the Russian attack lasted three hours, and Kremlin forces lost a total of three tanks, seven MTLB armored personnel carriers, and one BMP 2 infantry fighting vehicle in the battle. Video first published by Ukrainian army command, and associated with 72nd Mechanized Brigade confirmed some but not all of the Russian losses. Ukrainian army spokesmen on Wednesday said actual Russian losses probably were higher.

Independent Ukrainian military journalist Yuriy Butusov in a Thursday article confirmed the video was authentic and that the Russian attacks took place. The assaults, he said, failed primarily due to repeated Ukrainian kamikaze drone attacks: “This was, probably, one of the clearest demonstrations of the dominance of drones which, in some tactical circumstances, replace artillery on the battlefield.”

Both the Bulava drone unit and 72nd Brigade very likely operate in the Novomykhailivka sector and recently published video associated with those units matched terrain around the town. Drone tactics as shown in the videos were also a close match with successful tactics used by Ukraine strike drone units operating in the southern Kherson sector, Kyiv Post research found.

Contradicting Kremlin claims of a successful attack, Russian milbloggers quickly confirmed Ukrainian reports of heavy Russian losses at Novomykhailivka to drone swarms. According to many pro-Kremlin military information platform operators, the Russian army leadership’s continuing failure to develop effective defenses against strike drones there and at other locations amounts to negligence.

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“Once again, our column was cut to bits by [Ukrainian] drones. Novomykhailivka. There is no protection from the sky. No small-caliber air defense weapons, no small-scale jamming,” fumed Maksim Kalashnikov, a popular milblogger, in a Feb. 1 post. “What is the point of these attacks? So that [senior Russian army commanders] can report they are taking decisive action, and so that they can earn medals by throwing away the lives of their own people?”

Although clearly directed in general against milbloggers like Maksim Kalashnikov, Solovyev’s mentioned no one by name in his demand that Russians posting the negative reports should be jailed forthwith.

“About today’s attempt by our warriors to attack in the area of Novomykhailivka… Honestly, I don’t know what to say, about how it could be possible that on 30.01.2024 the generals and admirals planning this attack couldn’t factor in FPV drones,” complained the widely read (750,000+ followers) pro-Moscow blogger Porvernutie Na Z Voine in a diatribe against military leadership.

“How is it possible to allow oneself to lose so much military equipment, so many people? This is total cowardice and total incompetence. In the Russian army right now, there is NO collective defense against the enemy’s drones. What is installed on our vehicles has long become obsolete, it doesn’t cover frequencies now used by the enemy. The only ones who are trying to help are volunteers. The big factories can do nothing with field unit protection [against drones] and they’re sitting with gravy in their pants, before the army and the defense ministry. This problem needs an emergency response!” the Jan. 31 post said.

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On Friday spokesmen for Ukraine’s 46th Mechanized Brigade, a combat formation according to unit statements deployed adjacent to the Novomykhailivka sector, said Russian forces had shifted the focus of attacks some 10 kilometers north toward Ukrainian positions around the city Maryinka, scene of repeated Russian assaults since Nov. 2023. These new Russian assaults are, as before, making little progress, 46th Brigade’s Feb. 2 news feed claimed.

In commentary a good deal more sarcastic than conventional for a Ukrainian combat formation, the unit public affairs officer confirmed Russian military blogger complaints about poor Kremlin attack tactics used around Novomykhailivka on Monday and claimed on Friday that they were being attempted again near Maryinka, with similar results.

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“Do you remember how the orcs lost 11 combat vehicles near Novomykhailivka? Well, now they’re trying the Maryinka sector… And sometimes the enemy awakens an ancient, natural instinct of the Soviet idiot. An instinct based on the philosophy that losses are okay because [Russian] women will give birth to more children,” the situation update said.

“This is an instinct that says ‘What is an FPV-Drone? From what unit? It’s always mine! We weren’t taught this at the [Russian] General Staff.’ And so, the Soviet idiot sends his cannon fodder toward us [Ukrainian defenses] and we meet them. We are glad the Soviet idiot is on their side. We are appreciative, that there are people on the other side, who still think that a tank can survive and attack 2-3 kilometers from the line of contact, in an open field, during daylight. Eight combat vehicles attacked us, four have been destroyed, and four more just refused to drive forwards us,” the 46th Brigade account of fighting in the Maryinka sector on Friday morning said.

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