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How a Line of Russian Tanks Became an Inviting Target for the Ukrainians

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How a Line of Russian Tanks Became an Inviting Target for the Ukrainians

BROVARY, Ukraine – Between two rows of houses in a small town a column of Russian tanks collided with a main highway east of Kyiv – a vulnerable target.

Soon, Ukrainian forces were firing artillery shells at the Russian convoy while soldiers ambushed them with anti-tank missiles, leaving a row of charred, burning tanks.

Brovari is just 8 miles from the city of Kyiv, and Wednesday’s skirmish on the M01 highway showed how close Russian forces have come as they continue to tighten a noose on the nation’s capital—the biggest prize of all in the war. . The Russians continued to try to close in Kyiv on Friday with fighting in the northwest and east, mostly involving fierce, lead fighting for control of small towns and streets.

But the attack by Ukrainian troops in Brovry also provided sharp relief to the strategic challenges – and, military analysts say, strategic mistakes – that have misled the Russian military and prevented them, until now, from gaining control of most major cities. Is.

Although Russian forces outnumber the Ukrainian army and have better weapons, their size and their need to use mostly open roads make them less mobile and more susceptible to attack from Ukrainian troops who launch artillery attacks from several miles away. Can, together with surgical ambush .

“Urban warfare is always difficult, and I don’t think the Russians are any better than others,” said a senior research fellow at Norway’s Defense Research Establishment, a military think tank and Russia’s special forces.

He stated that the Russian army was engaged in a plodding, armored advance across the urban landscape of the outskirts of the city.

“I’m not sure there’s much strategy at the moment,” he said.

Ilya Berezenko, a Ukrainian soldier who witnessed a Ukrainian attack on a Russian armored column on Wednesday from a distant position but did not participate, said the aim was to hit the first and last tanks in the column, so that those To be trapped Middle.

From that point of view, the strike, which started fighting in many villages in the region, which is still ongoing, was only a partial success. In drone video of the ambush released by the Ukrainian military, which largely matches Private Berezenko’s account, several Russian armored vehicles can be seen driving away, apparently unharmed, while others burn.

Nevertheless, Private Berezenko said that from his point of view as a soldier, the episode was a sign of Russian mistakes. The group of armored vehicles on the road was an easy target, he said. “Their artillery came first, then their tanks. The whole scenario was strange,” he said.

He said the column was advancing with self-propelled artillery vehicles, which usually operated behind frontline forces mixed with tanks. Indeed, in a video released by the Ukrainian military, what appears to be the Russian Tos-1 is a rocket artillery launcher, known as Pinocchio, for its protruding nose-like box of rockets, of exploding tanks. He is seen driving amidst the devastation.

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“I don’t know why they are doing this,” said Private Berezenko. “Maybe they want to confuse us. Maybe they have some other understanding of what they’re doing. Who knows?”

He said the days of artillery shelling had dulled his nerves. “I was feeling normal” and didn’t panic during the clash, he said. “There’s nothing exciting about looking at a tank,” he said. “Everybody wants to live.”

Military analysts share the riddle of Ukrainian troops on stopping Russian progress so far toward Kyiv. It could be a pause while a new strategy is devised, said Dima Adamsky, an expert on Russian security policy at Reichman University in Israel.

On the first day of the war, the Russian Army attempted a lightning strike on the capital using special forces in an elite airborne unit. These troops tried to seize an airfield north of Kyiv in the city of Hostomel, in a helicopter attack with the explicit goal of creating a staging area for a quick attack.

But Ukrainian troops shot down several helicopters, disrupted the operation, then drove away the Russians who had managed to land in the airfield and forest, according to Ukrainian soldiers who took part in that battle.

Russian armored columns moving from Belarus to the capital unexpectedly met with fierce resistance. Military analysts say that these circumstances left the Russian army with no good option as it advanced towards Kyiv.

“They were confident in the success of Plan A, that they would take Kyiv without any bloodshed, but are now returning to the old form of war,” said Mr Bukkvol of the Norwegian Research Center.

For Ukrainians, he said, the strategy would be to “draw the enemy into the city,” where armored vehicles are driven into the streets rather than dispersed in fields.

This tactic was evident in the strike on the column outside Browery, where armored vehicles were struck while exiting open fields and entering a section of highway surrounded by homes, preventing any escape.

The Ukrainians, Private Berezenko said, fired with “whatever they had” from anti-tank missiles and artillery from afar. He was ordered to fallback position and did not see results.

Videos posted on Ukrainian social networks showed an armored personnel carrier that exploded open and spewing yellow flames. A Reuters videographer shot footage of Ukrainian soldiers launching and shooing away an abandoned Russian tank. It was not clear how many armored vehicles were in the column and how many were destroyed.

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Drone video of the attack also cheered Ukrainian soldiers inside the city. “It was beautiful,” said a soldier stationed at a checkpoint, who declined to be identified. “We just put it on them.” The video shows plumes of black smoke and dust blowing over the pavement and a tank apparently, strangely, trying to pivot to the rear over the shoulder of the road.

Driving east from Kyiv, the high-rises of the city center give way to malls, gas stations and furniture stores, then a forest and the suburban community of Brovary a few miles away.

While the strike forced the Russian column to retreat, days of fighting began in the villages to the east. And it was not without Ukrainian casualties.

In the hours and days after the strike, 20 wounded soldiers and civilians arrived at Brovery’s hospital. The deputy director of the emergency room, Volodymyr Andryuts, said all had suffered injuries or wounds from shrapnel or bullets.

These included members of a family whose car was shot down by Russian forces on Thursday after Wednesday’s ambush spread across a wooded area east of the city. Father Sergei Lugina said that one bullet hit his 14-year-old daughter Yekaterina’s right shoulder, and the other hit three fingers on her right hand. He said he managed to drive until he reached a Ukrainian checkpoint.

Dr. Andriots said one soldier had a shrapnel wound to his right wrist, but was resisting recommendations to amputate the limb.

“He understands that he will lose his hand” but was still protesting, Dr Andreas said.

The shock was setting in and the soldier was getting depressed, he said. Regarding the successful ambush on the M01 highway east of Browery, Dr. Andriots said, “He is not thinking about it now. Maybe later he will understand that it was a victory for Ukraine.

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