Weakened Russia running out of elite airborne infantry units in Ukraine

Russia has been weakened and is running out of the elite airborne infantry units it once relied on to carry out large-scale offensives in Ukraine, analysts in the United States have said.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said Putin’s military has been rapidly redeploying elite airborne units in front-line regions where Ukraine troops conducting the counteroffensive are concentrated. The think-tank said this indicates that the capacity of elite units is likely diminishing.

The ISW notes that, on August 27, an elite Russian air unit was transferred to Robotyne, likely from Luhansk Oblast. Ukrainian forces went on to liberate Robotyne the following day, August 28.


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The ISW said: “The degradation of these forces will likely weaken Russiaโ€™s ability to sustain complex defensive operations and almost certainly disrupt any Russian intent to resume offensive operations at scale.”

It said Putin’s previous military operations in Ukraine had depended largely on “elite infantry Russia now lacks”. The ISW, in a report published yesterday (August 28) also discussed Russia’s missile supply.

Ukrainian officials have claimed that Russia has, to some extent, replenished its stocks – but ISW says Putin’s military now lacks the capacity to carry out missile attacks at the scale it did during its winter 2022-2023 offensive.


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The ISW report states: “Russian forces conducted strikes with up to 100 missiles in a single strike series during the air campaign in the fall and winter of 2022, and the marginal replenishment of their missile stocks will likely prevent them from conducting an air campaign at anywhere near that scale.”

However, Russia may rely less on missiles and more on high-precision drone strikes in future campaigns, analysts have suggested.

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