Russian milbloggers have branded prominent Kremlin propagandists “traitors and sellouts” for refusing to acknowledge the failings in the Russian army which are leading to massive losses of men and materiel.
In a post on Telegram on Saturday, one milblogger insisted “true patriots” were those who reacted to news of a Russian armored attack being decimated by Ukrainian FPV drones by asking: “How is this possible?”
He accused those propagandists who sought to play down the failed attack and insist the Russian army was sufficiently equipped to fend off such threats as “corrupt creatures” and “traitors and sellouts.”
The row centres on a disastrous Russian armored assault earlier in the week against positions held by Ukraine’s 72nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade near the Donbas town Novomykhailivka.
Ukrainian images published a day after the attack and 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.
Are FPV drones effective on a battlefield?— Defense of Ukraine (@DefenceU) February 1, 2024
The warriors from the 72nd Mechanized Brigade, with the help of drones, turned a convoy of russian tanks and IFVs into a scrap metal army. pic.twitter.com/z62aeqJA4f
Russian milbloggers responded to the failed assault with heavy criticism Russia’s armed forces, specifically its apparent inability to stop the destruction of millions of dollars’ worth of specialised equipment by cheap Ukrainian FPV drones.
One, Maksim Kalashnikov, wrote: “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.”
He added: “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?”
The Kremlin’s top propagandist, Vladimir Solovyev, responded to the criticism by calling for anyone who made public the reality of what happened during the assault to be “destroyed – just eliminated.”
“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.
Solovyev and guests on his show continue to insist Russian forces have adequate counter-measures to fend off Ukrainian drones despite the video evidence to the contrary.
But the critical milbloggers appeared to later receive a boost in comments from President Putin himself, who on Feb. 2 said: “I just talked to the General Staff in the morning. In one of the areas, of course, the complexity of the situation is connected precisely with unmanned aerial vehicles.
“This is true almost everywhere. Unfortunately, there is, to put it mildly, something to work on.
“This is our ‘Achilles heel,’ one of them.”
But according to the Ukrainian military, Putin’s acknowledgment of the issue had yet to make a difference on the battlefield by the end of the week.
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 were, as before, making little progress.
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.
They said: “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 post added: “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.”
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