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“The Ukrainians have demonstrated excellent strike and intelligence capability”


Former officer Guillaume Ancel sees in the Ukrainian attack, which killed at least 63 Russian soldiers, proof of Russian amateurism mixed with contempt for the safety of his men.

Former Lieutenant-Colonel, Saint-Cyrien, Guillaume Ancel joined the business world in 2005. He is the author of several war stories, A blue helmet among the Khmer Rouge », « Rwanda, the end of the silence ” and “ Freezing wind over Sarajevo ” (Belles Lettres) as well as the Blog “Be free“.

LE FIGARO – What do we know about the attack that caused the death of 63 soldiers according to Moscow, several hundred according to the Ukrainian forces?

The conditions will in my opinion never be fully revealed. Russia could not deny the disaster, since the information turned on social networks. It would have been ludicrous of him to speak of an accident. If the 400 dead put forward by kyiv are unverifiable, when the Russian Ministry of Defense speaks of 63 dead, in my opinion this figure should be multiplied by four. We must be around 200, which means at least 300 to 400 injured. That’s a little over 600 victims in all. In a single salvo of HIMAR ammunition, I think almost the whole battalion was hit. It’s amazingly efficient.

The Russian military command is under fire from critics in its own camp. Is right ?

Apparently several hundred soldiers have been rounded up to be housed in this abandoned school, on a site within range of enemy fire. This is a major fault. One never gathers in the same place troops likely to be bombarded! This is madness.

When we deploy a garrison on a war territory, we distribute it on the ground, in small groups, in elementary units. By grouping them together, we necessarily take the risk that they will be bombarded. This reveals, yet again, the Russian command’s utter disregard for human life. For Moscow, preserving the lives of its soldiers is far from being a priority.

Several media have reported that the soldiers were betrayed by their phones, is this credible?

This seems incorrect to me, for two reasons. First, technically, Russian soldiers are prohibited from using their cell phones. I even think that it is confiscated from them, even if some manage to hide it to reach their families via VPN. Moreover, it would be a matter of staggering amateurism. Everyone knows today that you have to be careful with the use of cell phones in times of war. If they are still there, it is serious!

Be that as it may, the identification of telephone connections can be a first indication, but it remains insufficient. Imagine the drama if the target turned out to be a military hospital! The information must be at least verified by several sources. Typically, drones provide satellite images, and a physical, human source corroborates the information. It can be a simple woman in the street who pretends to sell some object to soldiers of the battalion. But that, Ukraine will not tell.

We will probably never know how the Ukrainians located this battalion, because it was probably with the support of Western intelligence. These are digital, electronic or physical signatures, detected by satellites, interception stations, drones or teams on the ground which make it possible to detect a military target of this type.

What does this attack teach about the state of the conflict?

Of course, no one rejoices in the deaths of hundreds of young people. Nevertheless, the Ukrainians have demonstrated their excellent striking ability. With the HIMAR, they had to fire a salvo of six rockets, no more. Compared to the massive Russian artillery fire that is pounding at all costs, it is eloquent. To achieve the same result, the Russians would have fired hundreds of shells or rockets!

This also demonstrates an excellent level of intelligence – which is undoubtedly based on that of NATO – and strikes, where Russia is three notches below.

Finally, this strike is quite representative of the state of the war in Ukraine. On the one hand, Russian soldiers used as cannon fodder, incredibly badly commanded and organized, on the other, the Ukrainians who have reached an exceptional tactical level. When we look at the event in the light of the Russian strike campaigns targeting mainly civilians, we clearly see that one is waging war, the other martyrs.

SEE ALSO – War in Ukraine: a Russian strike falls near a team of “Daily”

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