Russia in Ukraine sees breakdown in command and control as troops withdraw in ‘panic’: UK intelligence

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Russia’s command and control in Ukraine is seeing a breakdown, U.K. intelligence said in a Thursday update, noting that some Russia troops were withdrawing in “panic.”

Ukraine has made some significant advancements in the northern region of Kharkiv since first launching a long-awaited major counter-offensive earlier this month, and according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, some 400 towns and cities have been “liberated,” including strategically important positions like Izium. 

“Almost the entire region is de-occupied,” he said in an address Thursday morning. “It was an unprecedented movement of our warriors – Ukrainians once again managed to do what many considered impossible.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy poses for a photo with soldiers after attending a national flag-raising ceremony in the freed Izium, Ukraine, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Leo Correa)

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Western defense officials have also noted the success of Ukraine’s military and said some Russian forces have been forced to retreat across their own borders.

“The way in which Russian forces have withdrawn in the last week has varied,” the U.K. defense ministry said in its daily briefing. “Some units retreated in relatively good order and under control, while others fled in apparent panic.”

The ministry said some “high-value” equipment had been abandoned by Russian forces, who officials have said they believe were taken by surprise by Ukraine’s counter-offensive. 

Reports this week said Ukrainian troops captured or destroyed 100 tanks in 100 hours in is eastward campaign.

U.K. defense officials noted Kyiv had crushed part of Russia’s elite 1st Guards tank army, which it described as “one of the most prestigious of Russia’s armies, allocated for the defense of Moscow.”

A Ukrainian soldier shows a V-sign atop a vehicle in Izium, Kharkiv region, Ukraine, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022. 

A Ukrainian soldier shows a V-sign atop a vehicle in Izium, Kharkiv region, Ukraine, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Kostiantyn Liberov)

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“It will likely take years for Russia to rebuild this capability,” the ministry said this week.

Ukraine’s defense ministry on Thursday claimed to have destroyed over 2,000 tanks, 4,600 armored vehicles, 1,300 artillery missile launchers and 900 drones since the beginning of the war. 

Among the highly prized items left behind were “capabilities essential to enable Russia’s artillery-centric style of warfare,” western defense officials said. 

Ukrainian military vehicles move on the road in the freed territory in the Kharkiv region, Ukraine, Monday, Sept. 12, 2022. Ukrainian troops retook a wide swath of territory from Russia on Monday, pushing all the way back to the northeastern border in some places, and claimed to have captured many Russian soldiers as part of a lightning advance that forced Moscow to make a hasty retreat.

Ukrainian military vehicles move on the road in the freed territory in the Kharkiv region, Ukraine, Monday, Sept. 12, 2022. Ukrainian troops retook a wide swath of territory from Russia on Monday, pushing all the way back to the northeastern border in some places, and claimed to have captured many Russian soldiers as part of a lightning advance that forced Moscow to make a hasty retreat.
(AP Photo/Kostiantyn Liberov)

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At least one counter-battery radar system, known as ZOOPARK, and at least one IV14 artillery command and control vehicle were abandoned by Russian troops. 

“Such abandonment highlights the disorganized retreat of some Russian units and likely localized breakdowns in command and control,” the U.K. defense ministry said. 

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