Support The Moscow Times!

Elite Russian Marine Unit 'Nearly Destroyed' Near Ukraine’s Vuhledar

An aerial view of the town of Vuhledar.

An elite Russian naval infantry unit made up of mostly mobilized troops has lost nearly all its troops in fighting near the eastern Ukrainian town of Vuhledar, Russian media reported Monday, citing one of the survivors.

The 5,000-strong 155th Guards Naval Infantry Brigade has been “nearly destroyed” after up to 300 marines per day were killed in Russia's assault on the coal-mining town, according to comments by the Ukrainian defense forces to Politico on Sunday.

A surviving marine who spoke with the 7x7 regional news site said the losses were so severe that only eight men remained in one landing assault company, while the other survivors were taken prisoner.

“Those who survived were said to be deserters,” the unnamed marine was quoted as saying, estimating the brigade’s losses at 500 or more men killed.

Citing his commander, the marine told 7x7 that the brigade — nearly 90% of whom were recently mobilized soldiers — did not expect to return to Russia alive or unscathed.

“I wish I had been taken prisoner and never returned,” he added, complaining about the officers’ treatment of their soldiers.

The assault began on Jan. 23, the surviving marine told 7x7.

Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed that its forces had “neutralized” Ukrainian soldiers and military hardware near Vuhledar last week. 

That claim drew ridicule from Russian pro-war military bloggers for repeating the mistakes of past failed offensives and dented their belief in the military’s capacity to mount a widely reported large-scale offensive. 

The Russian Pacific Fleet’s 155th Guards Naval Infantry Brigade made headlines in November after accusing its commander of causing massive losses in an assault near the eastern city of Donetsk. 

Russia’s Defense Ministry issued a rare statement at the time denying the unit’s claims. The surviving marine told 7x7 on Monday that the brigade commander gave them a “strict reprimand” for airing its accusations in public.

The 155th brigade had to undergo three waves of restaffing after suffering defeats in Ukraine, Oleksiy Dmytrashkivskiy, the spokesman for the regional chapter of Ukraine’s defense forces, told Politico.

The marine who described the assault on Vuhledar to 7x7 said his command was “bringing in new” soldiers, many of whom are killed on the battlefield.

Read more