A Russian formation created for the Ukraine war has suffered heavy losses due to a lack of discipline and low morale, with one regiment losing a “large proportion of its tanks,” according to British intelligence.
The 10th Tank Regiment is part of the 3rd Army Corps, the first major new Russian formation formed to support the invasion.
In recent weeks, Moscow has switched its focus to Avdiivka in the Donetsk region, hoping to encircle the Ukrainian troops defending it after having so far failed to capture nearby Bakhmut.
But its 10th Tank Regiment has lost significant numbers of tanks in order to make only marginal gains.
Russia is believed to have lost at least 1,900 tanks since Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine in February last year, according to Western analysts.
Repeated tactical failures were blamed for the heavy losses Russian forces sustained around Avdiivka, according to the Ministry of Defence.
“10th Tank Regiment’s losses have likely largely been due to tactically flawed frontal assaults similar to those in other recent failed Russian armoured attacks, such as around the town of Vuhledar,” the ministry said on Tuesday in its daily intelligence briefing.
Soldiers are often drunk
The formation has reportedly been dogged by ill-discipline and poor morale.
Soldiers from the newly-formed 3rd Army Corps are often drunk, use obsolete weapons and received poor training in Belarus, according to Ukrainian sources.
Attempts by Russian forces to use armour in suicide missions to capture Ukrainian positions has become more prevalent in recent months.
Moscow has lost 1,900 tanks, including 1,147 destroyed and more than 500 captured by Kyiv, since the beginning of the war, according to Oryx, a respected open-source intelligence outfit that tracks battlefield losses.
In total, almost 10,000 pieces of military hardware have been lost by Russian forces, including armoured vehicles and artillery howitzers, in the 13 months since the invasion, its analysts said.
It is feared the renewed Russian effort to seize Avdiivka could create a “second Bakhmut”.
Earlier this week, the town’s top military official, Vitaliy Barabash, banned journalists and aid workers from entering, and ordered public officials to leave.
As the battle for the town continued to rage on Tuesday, Dmytro Kuleba, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, demanded that Russian forces leave “every square metre” of Ukrainian territory.
“I want to be clear – Russia has to withdraw from every square metre of Ukrainian territory. There should be no misinterpretation of what the word withdrawal implies,” he told the second US-led Summit for Democracy on Tuesday, referring to Volodymyr Zelensky’s commitment to recapturing Crimea.
“The cessation of Russia’s aggression and the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity are essential conditions for peace,” he said.
“Ill-advised concessions to the aggressor would only encourage Russia to intensify its attacks on democracy, giving it time to rebuild its military capabilities and resume the armed offensive against Ukraine.”
‘Defending entire democratic world’
Joe Biden, the US President, will formally kick off the summit on Wednesday as part of his effort to rally support for Ukraine.
“In this fight, we are defending the entire democratic world,” Mr Kuleba said.
The foreign minister’s clarion call came as it emerged Germany is planning a significant boost to its military aid for Ukraine.
Some €12 billion (£10.5 billion) more in spending is due to be approved by the parliamentary budget committee, AFP reported, with the funds to go towards military help for Kyiv as well as replenishing stocks of equipment already sent to Ukraine.
The sum dwarfs the €3 billion spent so far by Berlin on military aid for Kyiv.
The German army will reportedly be able to begin spending the cash this year, with further funds also earmarked for the coming years.
The committee will specifically vote on Wednesday on replenishing stocks of Panzerhaubitze 2000s self-propelled howitzers sent to Ukraine, the source said.
Meanwhile, Moscow on Tuesday claimed it had downed a long-range glide bomb supplied by the US for the first time.
“Air defence (forces) downed… a GLSDB guided rocket,” Russia’s defence ministry said in a statement, referring to ground-launched small diameter bombs jointly produced by the US and Sweden.
These weapons have a range of up to 93 miles, which would threaten Russian positions and supply depots far behind the front lines.
The Pentagon announced last month it was providing Ukraine with the bombs as part of a $2.2 billion (£1.7 billion) arms package.
Ukraine had been urging the United States for weapons with a longer range than Himars rockets, which can hit targets around 50 miles away.
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