Russia sends elite paratroopers to front line amid heavy losses


Depleted units of elite Russian paratroopers have been sent to Donbas after retreating from Kherson city.

British military intelligence said that the VDV airborne units, among the Kremlin’s best soldiers, were being thrown back into battle despite being severely weakened after nine months of war.

"Some VDV units have likely been reinforced with mobilised reservists," the Ministry of Defence said.

"Although these poorly trained personnel will dilute VDV’s supposedly elite capability, Russia will likely still allocate these units to sectors deemed especially important."

Russia’s VDV forces were part of the Russian defence of Kherson in the south of Ukraine. Russian forces withdrew from the city this month because it had become too difficult to resupply.

Russia’s elite paratroopers come with a fearsome reputation for toughness and unflinching violence.

The Kremlin uses them as shock troops and they attacked strategic locations around Kyiv during the initial hours of the Russian invasion in February.

Since retreating from Kherson city, Russian forces have been redeployed to the Donbas region and Western analysts have warned of intensified fighting.

In March, after retreating from around Kyiv, Vladimir Putin made capturing the whole of the Donbas region a priority.

He celebrated when Russian forces declared the capture of Luhansk complete in July, but that proved a pyrrhic victory.

Since then, Russian forces have been pushed back across most fronts and have lost hard won towns and territory in Donbas.

"Potential operational tasks for the VDV include supporting the defence of the Kremina-Svatove area in Luhansk Oblast or reinforcing offensive operations against the Donetsk Oblast town of Bakhmut," the MoD said.

The town of Bakhmut in Donetsk has become a focus of fighting over the past few weeks with Russian forces doggedly trying to capture it.

Svatove, in northeastern Ukraine, is the town where Russian forces retreated to after routing from around Kharkiv in September.

British intelligence has previously identified the Svatove flank as a Russian weakness.