Russia is losing its most elite troops thanks to 'complacency' by commanders and Ukrainian fightback, UK says

·3 min read
Russia is losing its most elite troops thanks to 'complacency' by commanders and Ukrainian fightback, UK says
ukraine soldier phone
A Ukrainian soldier outside a residential building damaged by a missile in Kyiv, Ukraine.Pierre Crom/Getty Images
  • Russia has seen "significant losses" among its elite army units, the UK's defense ministry said.

  • The ministry attributed the losses to Ukrainian resistance and "complacency of Russian commanders."

  • Russia is reported to have suffered heavy losses in its war in Ukraine, including top generals.

Russia is losing many of its elite troops in Ukraine because of unexpected Ukrainian resistance and "complacency" among its commanders, UK intelligence said in a new assessment.

"The failure to anticipate Ukrainian resistance and the subsequent complacency of Russian commanders has led to significant losses across many of Russia's more elite units," the UK Ministry of Defence said in a Thursday update.

It said issues with the work of Russia's elite airborne troops, or VDV, in Ukraine showed how Russia's military had been "unbalanced" in the way Russia invested in it.

It said the VDV had been used in situations in which "heavier armored infantry" would've been more suitable and as a result had "sustained heavy casualties during the campaign."

"Its mixed performance likely reflects a strategic mismanagement of this capability and Russia's failure to secure air superiority," it said.

The VDV is a cadre of elite airborne troops who specialize in rapidly seizing key territory via parachute jumps or being launched in helicopters, and their status in the Russian military means they are often used as a rapid-reaction force. These paratroopers use more heavy systems like tanks and infantry-fighting vehicles than their counterparts in the US, as Insider's Stavros Atlamazoglou has reported. The VDV are easily distinguished by their blue berets and the blue-striped undershirts worn under their fatigues.

The UK also said the VDV had been "heavily involved in several notable tactical failures since the start of Russia's invasion."

In the initial invasion, VDV forces assaulted an airport 20 miles outside Kyiv, Ukraine, via helicopters. The airport's seizure would've allowed Russia to quickly fly in more troops, weapons, and armored vehicles. But the paratroopers lost the field to a Ukrainian counterattack.

Russia failed to meet its strategic aims from the onset of the invasion, failing to capture key parts of the country as it expected, and with Russia ceding control of many areas back to Ukraine three months on.

What started as an assault on much of Ukraine, including the capital, Kyiv, has turned into a battle focused in the east, near Russia's border. Western intelligence has noted that Russia expected quick victory in its invasion and didn't expect a strong resistance from Ukraine.

The exact number of Russian troop losses is unknown, as Russia hasn't shared them. The UK defense ministry estimated in mid-May that Russia had lost a third of its forces.

A BBC investigation in April found that Russia's military was losing many elite troops, who are expensive to train.

Retired Adm. James Stavridis, a former NATO supreme allied commander for Europe, also said earlier in May that "in modern history, there is no situation comparable in terms of the deaths of generals."

A Russian veterans group recently criticized Russia's so-called special military operation a failure and urged the country to officially declare war on Ukraine and mobilize additional forces.

Read the original article on Business Insider