Russia in Ukraine sees breakdown in command and control as troops withdraw in panic: British intelligence

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British intelligence said in an update on Thursday that Russian command and control in Ukraine was collapsing, noting that some Russian forces were withdrawing in a “panic”.

Ukraine has made some notable progress in the northern Kharkiv region since launching a long-awaited large counter-offensive earlier this month, and according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, some 400 towns and cities, including strategically important sites, have been “liberated”. Like Izium.

“Almost the entire area is de-occupied,” he said in a speech Thursday morning. “It was an unprecedented move for our warriors – the Ukrainians were once again able to do what many considered impossible.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky poses for a photo with soldiers after attending a national flag-raising ceremony in liberated Izyum, Ukraine, Wednesday, September 14, 2022.
(AP Photo/Leo Correa)

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Western defense officials also noted the success of the Ukrainian military and said that some Russian forces were forced to retreat across its border.

“The way in which Russian forces withdrew last week is different,” the British Ministry of Defense said in its daily briefing. “Some units retreated in relatively good condition and under control, while others fled in apparent panic.”

The ministry said Russian forces abandoned some “high-value” equipment that officials said they believed were caught off guard by Ukraine’s counterattack.

Reports this week said Ukrainian forces captured or destroyed 100 tanks in 100 hours in an eastward campaign.

British defense officials noted that Kyiv had crushed part of the Russian 1st Guards Tank Army, which they described as “one of the most ancient Russian armies, dedicated to the defense of Moscow.”

A Ukrainian soldier displays a V-shaped banner above a vehicle in Izyum, Kharkiv region, Ukraine, Tuesday, September 13, 2022.

A Ukrainian soldier displays a V-shaped banner above a vehicle in Izyum, Kharkiv region, Ukraine, Tuesday, September 13, 2022.
(AP Photo/Kostiantyn Liberov)

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“It is likely that it will take years for Russia to rebuild this capacity,” the ministry said this week.

On Thursday, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry claimed to have destroyed more than 2,000 tanks, 4,600 armored vehicles, 1,300 artillery rocket launchers and 900 drones since the start of the war.

Among the valuable items left behind, Western defense officials said, were “the essential capabilities to enable a method of warfare focused on Russian artillery.”

Ukrainian military vehicles move on the road in the liberated area of ​​the Kharkiv region of Ukraine, Monday, September 12, 2022. Ukrainian forces recaptured a large swath of territory from Russia on Monday, pushing all the way back to the northeastern border in some places, and claiming to have captured many Russian soldiers As part of a lightning advance, Moscow was forced into a rapid retreat.

Ukrainian military vehicles move on the road in the liberated area of ​​the Kharkiv region of Ukraine, Monday, September 12, 2022. Ukrainian forces recaptured a large swath of territory from Russia on Monday, pushing all the way back to the northeastern border in some places, and claiming to have captured many Russian soldiers As part of a lightning advance, Moscow was forced into a rapid retreat.
(AP Photo/Kostiantyn Liberov)

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Russian forces have abandoned at least one anti-battery radar system, known as ZOOPARK, and at least one IV14 artillery command and control vehicle.

“Such abandonment highlights the disorderly decline of some Russian units and potential local breakdowns in command and control,” the MoD said.

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