Ukrainian military lost most of its US-made M2 Bradley AFVs in counterattack

Russian forces repulse Ukrainian counterattack in Zaporozhye.


Ahmed Adel, Cairo-based geopolitics and political economy researcher

Ukrainian soldiers said that most US-made M2 Bradley armoured vehicles were destroyed during the counter-offensive in the Zaporozhye region. According to AFP, the vehicles were destroyed just outside the small town of Orikhiv.

“Of nine vehicles attached to the group’s mechanised infantry unit — not the only one involved in the battle — six were wrecked, three damaged but reparable, and one was unscathed,” AFP reported, adding that a Ukrainian soldier said only “very small progress” was made against the Russian army.

“Who would be happy receiving those orders, ‘Go and take those Russian positions which are well protected’?” a senior officer, who asked not to be identified, said according to AFP.

In early June, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said that in the direction of Zaporozhye, Ukrainian troops consisting of 1,500 fighters and 150 armoured vehicles tried to break through Russian defences but lost up to 350 troops and 30 tanks in two hours. The minister stressed that the Ukrainian brigade was stopped in all zones towardZaporozhye.

With the Ukrainian offensive underway, Kiev has virtually no gains to show. In contrast, images of destroyed Leopard tanks and Bradley infantry fighting vehicles used by Ukrainian troops have circulated on social media. For this reason, several experts have warned about a heavy military defeat for Ukraine and another geopolitical failure for NATO, which again is resorting to intervention in remote territories outside its jurisdiction to achieve its objectives against Russia. 

While the US and its allies have generously provided Ukraine with weapons and military vehicles during the current conflict, Ukrainian forces are institutionally and operationally incapable of successfully absorbing the wide and inconsistent array of equipment and weaponry on the battlefield.

Nonetheless, the US and the UK need Ukraine to launch acounteroffensive as they are the main financiers of Kiev’s escalation but are experiencing growing poverty and economic crises and therefore need to justify to their citizens the vast money sent to Ukraine.

Former Central Intelligence Agency agent and Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, Philip Giraldi, warned that Western media are trying to make it appear that the Ukrainian counter-offensive is succeeding and that Ukraine’s forces are encroaching on Russian positions. In this sense, and despite what is happening on the battlefield, Giraldi stressed that US, UK, and German politicians are obliged to speak positively about the situation in Ukraine.

Despite the rhetoric, images of destroyed M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and German-built Leopard 2A6 tanks abandoned and burning on the Ukrainian battlefield, the harsh truth about the futility of defeating Russia is starting to sink in. The reality is that Ukraine never had the capabilities to achieve its stated goal of piercing Russian defences to sever the land bridge connecting Crimea to Russia proper. 

The Western hope was that Russia would be demoralised by these casualties and accept a negotiated end to the conflict on terms acceptable to Ukraine and its Western allies. Evidently, Ukraine and its allies have failed. 

The genesis of this failure can be attributed to two things.First, the low opinion that Ukraine and its NATO allies had of the combat capabilities of the Russian Army and the forces deployed in the Zaporozhye region, and second, the unrealistic expectations placed on the NATO training and equipment that were provided to Ukrainian forces and assigned to the task of breaking through Russian defences.

It is reasonable to assume that, using intelligence assessments that highlighted perceived command and control weaknesses and low morale among Russian forces, NATO and Ukrainian military planners believed that Russian defences in the Zaporozhye sector would collapse under the weight of a NATO-style assault.

Although fighting in Zaporozhye is not yet over, initial results on the battlefield show that contrary to the expectations of Ukraine and its NATO partners, the Russian military professionally performed their tasks, decisively defeating Ukrainian forces. NATO and Ukraine gambled that Russia lacked the military capability to successfully implement its military doctrine, believing that Russian command teams lacked the necessary communications to coordinate the complex operations needed and that Russian forces — especially those that were recently mobilised — lacked the training and morale to perform well in stressful combat conditions. 

NATO and the Ukrainian high command threw the Ukrainian brigades into the grip of the Russian defensive lines without adequate fire support, thinking that the Russians were unableto maximise their superiority in artillery and air power to neutralise and destroy the forces of Ukrainian attackers before they could generate the momentum expected. Instead, this led to the humiliating loss of most of the US-made M2 Bradley provided to the Ukrainian military for this front. 


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