Russia could need an entire decade to rebuild elite unit after losses3 min read
Leaked US intelligence documents have suggested that Russia’s elite Spetnaz special forces units have been decimated in the war in Ukraine. According to American analysts, the Kremlin faces years of rebuilding before the highly trained and secretive force returns to pre-war strength.
Spetnaz troops were commanded, and eventually failed, to penetrate Kyiv and kidnap Ukraine’s president in the early days of the war.
These elite commandos undergo years of extensive training and are regarded as the greatest soldiers in Russia’s military.
When Putin ordered his soldiers to cross the Ukraine border in February 2022, senior commanders used Spetsnaz units because they did not fully trust their conventional fighters to be effective on their own.
As a result, these units have sustained significant losses, as revealed by top-secret US intelligence findings released in a leak, prompting a national security inquiry and the arrest of a national guardsman.
The Washington Post has obtained satellite photos of a base used by the 22nd Separate Spetsnaz Brigade in southern Russia from a leaked document.
A comparison of pictures between November 2021 and November 2022 revealed a considerable depletion in the base, indicating an extreme loss situation.
According to the evaluation, the 22nd Separate Spetsnaz Brigade, together with two other units, saw an attrition rate of 90 to 95 percent.
According to records obtained by the US outlet, it takes four years to train a Spetsnaz soldier in Russia, and replenishing the ranks of these special groups might take up to a decade.
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Although the documents do not specify the exact number of Spetsnaz troops killed or wounded in Ukraine, it is reported that one unit, the 346th, lost nearly the entire brigade, with only 125 of 900 remaining deployed.
It comes as the battle for Bakhmut is heating up again, analysts and Russian officials said Friday, as Ukrainian defenders of the devastated city resisted a coordinated three-pronged attack by the Kremlin’s forces and efforts to stop supplies from reaching them.
“Russia has re-energized its assault” on Bakhmut, the U.K. Ministry of Defense said of recent developments in the eastern Ukraine city, which for eight and a half months has been the stage for Ukraine” the war’s longest and bloodiest fight.
“The Ukrainian defence still holds the western districts of the town but has been subjected to particularly intense Russian artillery fire over the previous 48 hours,” the ministry’s assessment said.
Until recently, a notorious private Russian military contractor, the Wagner Group, spearheaded the campaign to take Bakhmut, making slow, grinding progress at the cost of thousands of lives on both sides. Now, regular Russian units have joined the thrust.
Military analysts have said that seizing Bakhmut would have public relations and tactical military value for Moscow though was unlikely to prove decisive in the war’s outcome. The Russian Defense Ministry also noted the stepped-up fighting in western parts of the city Friday.
“Wagner assault detachments are engaged in high-intensity combat operations to capture areas of western Bakhmut with airborne forces supporting on the flanks,” the ministry said in a statement.
It added: “The units of the airborne forces operating on the flanks are providing support to the assault squads and stop the enemy’s attempts to deliver ammunition to the city and bring in reserves.”
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