Russian military doctrine a failure, bloggers exaggerating Russian ‘successes’ near Bakhmut, says ISW

30 November 2022, 01:20 PM
Russia abandoning BTG formation after poor performance in war (Photo:REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne)

Russia abandoning BTG formation after poor performance in war (Photo:REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne)

Russian military bloggers' claims that Russian troops have broken through the Ukrainian defensive line near Bakhmut appear to be exaggerations, U.S. think tank the Institute for the Study of the War (ISW) said in its update on the Russian invasion of Ukraine for Nov. 29.

 Russia has also stopped deploying its "doctrinal" combat formations – battalion tactical groups (BTGs) – which have proved to be a failure in this war, the ISW said.

Russian troops have achieved marginal gains near Bakhmut, but they are not likely to be as significant as Russian "military experts" and propaganda have claimed, the institute’s analysts reckon.

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The ISW confirmed with geolocated footage that there had been marginal advances by Russian troops southeast of Bakhmut, but it was still unable to confirm there were any "huge gains" as claimed by Russian media starting on Nov. 27.

Despite information about Russian troops breaking through the Ukrainian defensive line near Bakhmut along the T0513 highway, advancing towards Chasiv Yar and cutting one of two main Ukrainian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) to Bakhmut, there is no evidence confirming such claims.

The ISW thus thinks Russian troops are unlikely able to encircle Bakhmut in the short term.

The Russian army also intensified its offensive activities northeast from Bakhmut near Siversk and Soledar, probably in an attempt to leverage the moral spirit that should have been raised after its tiny gains near Bakhmut.

However, Ukraine's General Staff reported that the Ukrainian army had repelled attacks near Serebrianka, Verkhniokamyanske, Berestove, Bilihorivka and Yakolivka (all within 35 kilometers to the north-east from Bakhmut).

UK Defence Intelligence reported on Nov. 29 Russian forces had stop deploying its "doctrinal" military units – battalion tactical groups (BTGs) – in the past three months because they had proved to be ineffective. ISW experts also confirmed "that Russian BTGs were degraded in various failed or culminated Russian offensives, including the attacks on Kyiv, Mariupol, Severodonetsk, and Lysychansk" since April.

Subsequent efforts to restore the combat power of the BTGs have failed, the ISW said.

Currently, Russia relies on ad-hoc structures with poorly trained and equipped mobilized soldiers with low morale and discipline.

ISW key takeaways:

  • Ukrainian forces continue their counter-offensive near Svatovo and Kreminna, while Russian troops are defending their positions near Svatovo and performing limited ground attacks to the west of Kreminna to regain lost positions;

  • Russian invading troops conducted attacks near Siversk and Avdiyivka, and in the west of Donetsk Oblast

  • Russian forces are constructing fortifications in the eastern part of Kherson Oblast, while the Ukrainian army continues to hit areas of Russian troop concentrations in the south of Ukraine;

  • Russia is still struggling with outdated equipment and personnel shortages, so a second wave of a covert mobilization is likely to come. The ISW said that evidence of of an upcoming mobilization was that in the city of Kirov local businesses employees have been ordered to register with military enlistment offices to "clarify their military credentials";

  • An independent investigation has shown that Russia may have abducted thousands of Ukrainian penal colony prisoners while retreating from the western bank of the Dnipro River in Kherson Oblast.

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