Captured documents reveal Russian army woes and fear of HIMARS
The photo zone with the inscription "Balakliya" was destroyed (Photo:NV)
Russian troops abandoned thousands of internal documents at their command post during their retreat from Balakliia, Kharkiv Oblast, Reuters reported on Oct. 26.
The documents reveal that weeks before the start of the Ukrainian September counter-offensive, Russian knew they were being surveilled. Their electronic warfare equipment was constantly breaking. Furthermore, U.S.-made HIMARS rocket artillery began to strike their command posts, which seriously damaged Russian troop morale.
Mostly it was the 11th Army Corps – part of the Russian Baltic Fleet – operating in Balakliia and its surroundings. A group of invaders, called “Balakliya,” was led by Colonel Ivan Popov. Earlier he participated in the wars in Chechnya and Georgia. His wife confirmed that Popov led troops in eastern Ukraine, was injured and hospitalized during the retreat from Balakliia, and was promoted to general afterwards.
The military commandant in the city went by the call sign “Granite.” He oversaw at least one torture chamber, where civilians were beaten and electrocuted.
In late August, the morale of Russian troops was extremely poor, as they suffered serious losses, were demoralized, and some refused to fight. Some units had only 20% of required personnel.
In addition to the Russian military, mobilized people from occupied Donbas were also present in the area. Compared to the Russians, their salaries were much lower, and their equipment was worse. One of them had his fingers wounded after his 1891-designed Mosin rifle exploded.
The documents had a description of the battle in mid-July for the village of Hrakove near Balakliia. Ukrainian forces went on the offensive and forced the Russians to retreat. But the commander of the Russian troops ordered not to give up the village and sent for reinforcements. Eventually, the Russians were able to recapture lost positions, but lost at least one tank, two armored personnel carriers and other vehicles; 39 invaders were injured, seven were killed, and 21 were MIA.
Around that time, Ukrainian forces launched a HIMARS strike at the Russian base, killing 12 enemy troops. By the end of July, Russian troops were already convinced that Ukraine was planning an offensive on this axis. So, the invaders decided to bolster their units here, but by the end of August they were able to recruit only 71% of the required number of soldiers.
In early September, the Armed Forces of Ukraine launched a counteroffensive in Kharkiv Oblast. Ukrainian troops managed to liberate 421 settlements, including Izyum and Balakliia.
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