Russia resorting to 60-year-old battle tanks; Kremlin military split widens: Live Ukraine updates
Written by B87FM on March 6, 2023
The Russian military is responding to heavy armored vehicle losses by deploying 60-year-old battle tanks, the British Defense Ministry said Monday.
Even units of Russia’s premier tank force, the 1st Guards Tank Army, may be reequipped with the “vintage” T-62s to replace more modern tanks that have been destroyed in the war, the ministry said in its latest assessment of the conflict. Since last summer, about 800 T-62s have been taken from storage, some getting upgraded sighting systems to improve their effectiveness at night, the assessment says.
Russian BTR-50 armored personnel carriers, first fielded in 1954, also are now being deployed in Ukraine, the assessment says.
“Both these vintage vehicle types will present many vulnerabilities on the modern battlefield, including the absence of modern explosive reactive armor,” the assessment says.
UKRAINE MILITARY AIDS CIVILIANS FLEEING BAKHMUT:Is Russia running out of ammo? March 5 recap
►Russian forces attacked central and eastern regions of Ukraine with Iranian-made Shahed drones, Ukraine Air Force spokesman Yurii Ihnat told Ukrainian media. Of 15 drones Russia launched, 13 were shot down.
►Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office says 464 Ukrainian children have died and 931 have been injured in Russian attacks on civilians since the war began.
►Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu traveled to Mariupol and toured some of the city’s rebuilt infrastructure in an apparent attempt to cement the Russian hold in the areas it has occupied and annexed.
►Ukrainian tennis player Marta Kostyuk beat Russian Varvara Gracheva 6-3, 7-5 at the ATX Open final Sunday in Texas. During the trophy ceremony, Kostyuk dedicated her award to the Ukrainian people.
Ukraine vows to defend Bakhmut as Russian attacks intensify
Ukraine’s military leaders remain committed to defending Bakhmut despite the immense firepower Russian forces have rained down on the Donetsk region city for months, the office of Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Monday.
Ukraine’s army chief, Valery Zaluzhny, and regional commander Oleksandr Syrskyi “spoke in favor of continuing the defense operation and further strengthening our positions in Bakhmut,” Zelenskyy’s office said in a statement.
Military strategists have questioned why Russia has been so determined to seize the city, given the heavy casualties and apparently modest military value. Ukraine authorities previously had considered a tactical retreat. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Monday that losing Bakhmut would not be a major blow because its value is more symbolic than strategic.
The huge amount of losses Russia is taking in Bakhmut is the main reason the Ukrainians continue to defend it, and that has become a source of conflict between Zelenskyy and Zaluzhny, Bild reported. The German newspaper cited an Ukrainian military analyst who said Russia is sustaining seven casualties for every Ukrainian one in the Bakhmut campaign.
Russian shells again targeted the city and nearby villages Monday as Moscow made an apparent bid to crush Bakhmut’s monthslong resistance, Donetsk Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko said.
“Civilians are fleeing the region to escape Russian shelling continuing round the clock as additional Russian troops and weapons are being deployed there,” he said.
‘Red tape or treason’: Split between mercenaries, Kremlin grows
The clash between the Russian military and the private mercenary group that has been the point of the Kremlin spear in Ukraine’s Donbas region intensified Monday as the Wagner group owner again accused Russian leaders of withholding ammunition.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, who has close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, criticized top military leaders for moving slowly to deliver the promised ammunition, questioning whether the delay was caused “by red tape or treason.” And Prigozhin complained in a VK social media post that his team was punished after writing a letter to a Russian commander seeking more ammunition.
“On March 6, at 8 o’clock in the morning, my representative at the headquarters had his pass canceled and was denied access to the group’s headquarters,” Prigozhin wrote.
Prigozhin’s complaint comes two weeks after he accused the Russian military of “direct resistance” in an attempt to destroy Wagner – and accused Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov of treason.
Russia bans global anti-corruption group
The Russian government tightened its crackdown against criticism Monday by branding the global anti-corruption group Transparency International as “undesirable,” effectively banning it from operating in the country. The Berlin-based group is best known for an annual index ranking countries, including Russia, on their degree of corruption.
The 2022 rankings, the most recent, place the U.S. as the 24th least corrupt of 180 countries. Ukraine was tied at number 116; Russia ranked 137th. Denmark was found to be the least corrupt and Somalia was the most corrupt.
Nuclear chief warns of ‘urgent need’ to protect plant from fighting
Intensified fighting and stressful working conditions at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant threaten to compromise safety and security at the plant, International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi warned Monday. The agency team at the site of Europe’s largest nuclear plant has reported increasing military action nearby, he said, adding that there has been “open discussion” about offensives and counteroffensives in the area.
The situation underscores the “urgent need” to establish a nuclear safety and security protection zone at the site, he said. Grossi told the agency’s board of governors he is conducting talks with both sides aimed at obtaining such protection.
“My simple question is: Are we waiting for a nuclear emergency before we react?” he said.
Contributing: The Associated Press