In an interview with NV, published on June 7, Kyrylo Mykhailov, an analyst from the conflict think-tank Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT), spoke about the widely-reported defeat of the Russian 35th Combined Arms Army near Izyum, Kharkiv Oblast.
According to Mykhailov, the source of the recent reports came from a Russian blogger, who has spent eight years in the “army” of the so-called “Donetsk/Luhansk People’s Republics.”
“He quoted his sources that claimed the army had two brigades at the onset of the offensive,” Mykhailov explained.
“As it stands, a mere 100-200 infantrymen remain in those brigades, though that doesn’t mean the whole army is gone – only the infantry of its brigades.”
He noted that a typical Russian brigade consists of two infantry battalions and one armored one, putting it at around 800 total combat troops - approximately 1,600 across the two brigades.
“1,500-2,000 troops, bearing in mind that some of them would be conscripts, remaining at base or withdrawn, following recent scandals (of Russia deploying conscripts to fight in Ukraine),” the analyst added.
According to him, a couple thousand troops being reduced to a couple hundred signifies “extremely heavy losses,” although the 35th is but one of the four armies in Russia’s Eastern Military District.
“On top of that, Russian forces from the Western Military District are also deployed there – the 1st Tank Army,” Mykhailov pointed out.
“We’ve seen several T-80 tanks arriving there, which are very similar to the ones from this unit. Meaning, they have managed to replenish their armor reserves, if not manpower.”
He added that, according to Ukraine’s General Staff, there could be as many as 20 Russian battalion-tactical groups (BTGs) at Izyum, each comprised of 400-600 troops. The heavy losses they’ve sustained could only have been recouped with poorly-trained and barely combat-ready reinforcements.
“So, we’re talking about several thousand Russian troops deployed there, which remains a significant threat in the Donbas theater,” Mykhailov concluded.
Earlier, the U.S.-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported that Russia’s 35th Combined Arms Army has been demolished at Izyum, mostly due to incompetent commanders.
According to ISW, the unit was left without adequate equipment and supplies, with heavy artillery lacking necessary and timely maintenance. A shortage of encrypted comms forced Russian commanders to communicate through messengers.
The defeat of the 35th army was also reported on by the President’s Chief-of-Staff, Andriy Yermak.