Russian soldiers are engaged in fierce battles in eastern Ukraine as they seek to conquer the Donbas – with fighting intensifying around Severodonetsk. Determined Ukrainian resistance has succeeded in slowing down the Russian advance to a snail’s pace in many places along the eastern front. The Ukrainian Army has inflicted heavy losses on the Russian invaders, leading to a mini-revolt among some of Putin’s most professional and highly trained troops.
An expert on the Russian military has claimed that special forces are refusing to carry out recce missions until they get better air cover to protect them from Ukrainian attacks.
He wrote on Twitter: “Trusted Russian Spetznaz (special forces)sources say that main reason of slow movement of many Russian battalion tactical groups is that designated Setznaz units refuse to carry out recce tasks due to heavy losses by strong Ukrainian defence.
“To solve situation commanders ask UAV support but due to equipment losses this is hard to get.”
The Ukrainian Army has said it has shot down over 300 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) since the outbreak of hostilities on February 24.
Spetnaz is the Russian equivalent of the British army’s SAS and was founded in the 1950s to carry out strategic missions.
In general, military Spetsnaz units are a light infantry airborne force that can act as shock troops.
During the Cold War, they were relied on to uphold the status quo in the Soviet sphere of influence.
Spetnaz units spearheaded the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and were instrumental in quashing the Hungarian uprising of 1956.
They were also extensively used in operations in Afghanistan during the Soviet Union’s occupation of the country.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Spetznaz forces saw action in Chechnya, as well as in Crimea and Syria.
Today, a few elite Spetsnaz units, such as Alpha and Vympel Groups, have purely strategic missions – such as counterterrorism, counterproliferation, and the security of nuclear installations.
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Russia’s elite force has achieved legendary status in the West, acquiring an almost mythical status.
Mark Galeotti, a Russian security expert, said the myths were fuelled by “tales of covert assassinations and macho heroics, feeding the belief that they are simultaneously soldiers, spies, and saboteurs.
“Increasingly, the Spetsnaz are at the heart of a new Russian way of war that emphasises speed, surprise and deception over massive conventional force, and their skills make sure that they will maintain their special status into the future.”
However, it would appear that Spetnaz forces have suffered high casualties in Ukraine and some repetitional damage.
In March as many as 11 members from one GRU Spetnaz brigade were reported to have died in fighting in Mariupol.
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It comes as Kyiv insisted on Sunday that there could be no ceasefire deal with Moscow that involved ceding territory to Russia.
Presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said territorial concessions to Russia would simply sow the seeds of another bloody war sometime in the future.
He said: “Today, any concession to Russia is not a path to peace, but a war postponed for several years.
“Ukraine trades neither its sovereignty, nor territories and Ukrainians living on them.
“It’s a pity that we have to explain such simple things to such reputable media as @nytimes.”