Russia issues rare denial of ‘pointless losses’ by brigade in Ukraine



LONDON: Russia’s defence ministry took the unusual step on Monday of denying reports by Russian military bloggers that a naval infantry unit had lost hundreds of men in a fruitless offensive in eastern Ukraine, the state-owned RIA news agency said.
It said the ministry had rejected the bloggers’ assertions that the 155th marine brigade of the Pacific Fleet had suffered “high, pointless losses in people and equipment”.
On the contrary, in the course of 10 days the unit had advanced 5 km (over 3 miles) into Ukrainian defensive positions southwest of Donetsk, RIA quoted the ministry as saying.
It specifically denied that the brigade’s commanders had shown incompetence.
“Due to the competent actions of the unit commanders, the losses of marines for the given period do not exceed 1% of combat strength, and 7% wounded, a significant part of whom have already returned to duty,” it said.
The rare denial suggested the reports had touched a raw nerve at a point in the war’s ninth month when Russian forces are under heavy pressure in partly occupied regions of Ukraine that Moscow has proclaimed as its own territory – actions denounced as illegal by Kyiv, the West and most countries of the United Nations.
Russian military bloggers, some of whom command audiences of half a million or more on social media, have become increasingly critical of the failings of Moscow’s generals since Ukraine recaptured large parts of the northeast of the country in September.


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