The UK Defence Ministry has reported that Russia’s 155th Naval Infantry Brigade has apparently suffered extremely high casualties near Ukraine’s Vuhledar, the agency’s daily bulletin reveals.
Imagery posted by the British MoD shows concentrated Russian vehicle losses in the Vuhledar sector of the Donetsk region. These vehicles were likely elements of Russia’s 155th Naval Infantry Brigade which has been at the forefront of recent costly offensives, the agency notes.
Individual Naval Infantry units have been attached to Ground Forces-dominated Groups of Forces in Ukraine. “As such, Naval Infantry has been tasked with some of the toughest tactical missions in the war and has suffered extremely high casualties,” the Defence Ministry believes.
The supposedly enhanced capability of Naval Infantry brigades has now almost certainly been significantly degraded because it has been backfilled with inexperienced mobilised personnel. This lack of experience is almost certainly exacerbating Russian officers’ tendency to micromanage, which in turn reduces operational agility. There is a realistic possibility that degraded Naval Infantry units will again be committed to new assaults near Vuhledar, the British Ministry of Defence believes.
The US-based Institute for the Study of War says in its latest assessment piece that the 155th and 40th Naval Infantry Brigades of Russia’s Pacific Fleet have merged into one brigade because of significant losses in the Vuhledar area and that Russian forces deployed a National Guard special rapid response unit to prevent these personnel from rioting and refusing to fight.
ISW has previously reported that 43 buses of Wagner fighters arrived in Melitopol possibly representing one or two battalions worth of personnel, and Russian forces may have since transferred these Wagner personnel to the Vuhledar area. ISW has not observed any visual confirmation of Wagner fighters operating in the Vuhledar area, and Russian forces could also have transferred mobilised personnel to replenish the severely degraded naval infantry formations.
The VChK-OGPU Telegram channel has cited its source and reported that there is a “catastrophic lack of ammunition” in the 155th Brigade while the elite infantrymen are forced to “execute tasks alien to them on the Vuhledar direction, suffering significant losses”.
Ukraine’s General Staff reported Russia’s assault on 9 February, including that in the Vuhledar direction. Imagery posted by the UK defence Ministry are also of 9 February.