Russian commanders are ordering troops to make 'hysterical' and 'ill-conceived' counterattacks with shoddy artillery shells: report

  • Russian forces are using desperate tactics to hold back Ukrainian advances, according to a think tank.

  • Soldiers say they're being ordered to make "ill-conceived" counterattacks, the Institute for the Study of War said.

  • Ukraine is making slow but significant progress on the front near Bakhmut.

Russian commanders are ordering troops to make "ill-conceived" and "hysterical" counterattacks near the east Ukrainian city of Bakhmut in an urgent bid to regain lost ground, according to a respected US think tank. 

The Institute for the Study of War said recent posts by Russian military bloggers and servicemen revealed desperate conditions for the Russian military near Bakhmut, which has been at the center of ferocious fighting.

Troops from one battalion published a video online in which they said they had abandoned their equipment after being ordered to form an assault group and attack in the Bakhmut direction, the ISW said.

The think tank added that soldiers were being posted to the front line with shoddy artillery shells that don't explode when fired, and referred to reports that Russia had been sacrificing safety and quality in its efforts to build weapons quickly.

It added that morale was low after Ukrainian forces killed "most of an unspecified Russian regiment and almost an entire retreating assault group in the area."

The ISW cited a Russian military blogger posting on Telegram, who criticized flawed orders to counterattack and retake the village of Andriivka, near Bakhmut.

"The milblogger claimed that the Russian military command was planning 'weak' counterattacks and failed to provide accurate intelligence to Russian assault units. The milblogger observed that Russian forces also lack artillery support, while 'hysterical' counterattacks are depleting Russian resources and reserves," said the report.

Insider has been unable to verify the claims cited by the ISW, but it's one of a series of reports painting a picture of desperation as Russia seeks to stop Ukraine from breaking through its defensive lines.

As Insider's Sophia Ankel reported, Ukraine is believed to have punched through Russia's formidable anti-tank and "dragon's teeth" defenses with vehicles for the first time, according to multiple analysts.

George Barros, a lead analyst at ISW, located the assault near the southern village of Verbove.

Experts believe that Ukraine is probing several axes on the front line simultaneously, as part of a strategy to get Russia to spread its forces thin.

The UK's military intelligence on Wednesday said that Ukraine was drawing closer to cutting off a crucial supply route to Bakhmut.

The city has been the scene of some of the most ferocious fighting in the war, with Russian forces taking control of the region in May in one of the Kremlin's few notable recent successes.

"Since 15 September 2023, the Ukrainian Armed Forces have secured the villages of Klishchiivka and Andriivka, approximately 8km to the south of the Donetsk Oblast town of Bakhmut. This tactical success brings Ukrainian forces closer to the T 05-13 road, one of the main supply routes into Bakhmut from the south," the UK Ministry of Defense said.

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