Putin’s army in the sights of snipers

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Targeted shots at Russia’s officers: Ukrainian snipers help against the attack on Avdiywka © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

Russia is rolling towards Avdiivka again, and Ukrainian snipers are targeting officers. They let death lurk behind every hedge.

Awdiijwka – It would be best to leave the shooting to someone else and remain unseen. Three Ukrainian snipers recently told the newspaper in an interview Kyiv Post expressed. “I would say that every ten missions we undertake, we might actually fire a shot once,” said Volodymyr Harbovsky (pseudonym). “We get all types of missions and work with all types of units. Taking out an enemy soldier is almost never a priority. It’s more of an opportunity that you take advantage of when it presents itself.”

Now she might have made a point against Vladimir Putin’s invading army: The Ukrainian Pravda has published a report from Ukrainian special forces, according to which their snipers on the Avdiivka front are said to have killed twelve Russian occupiers and injured three. Russia’s next wave of attacks is underway. The question has been flaring up for days as to how the Ukraine war will continue if Avdiywka falls – into whose hands. The small Ukrainian town with around 30,000 inhabitants is within sight of Donetsk, i.e. close to the areas in eastern Ukraine occupied by Russia since 2014. The city has been a frontline city for around ten years and is therefore constantly under fire from both parties.

Strategically or psychologically, the city seems to be important for both sides, at least it ties up Russian forces that are missing on other sectors of the front. However, several Western observers believe that they are seeing increasing signs of fatigue among the Ukrainian defenders, such as daily News writes: The Ukrainian troops are in a difficult situation. Russia has more drones, more artillery shells, more men and is attacking in many places on the front. In the past few days, a massive deployment of armored personnel carriers has been observed – this means a significant increase in motorized riflemen. It can therefore also be assumed that there will be an increased deployment of battle tanks. The current wave of attacks has basically been going on since October – slowly, but seemingly never-ending.

Putin’s target: the coking plant that has been converted into a fortress

British intelligence is currently saying that it has detected a pincer movement by the Russian invading army. The British estimate that the Russians have advanced two kilometers towards Avdiywka in the past few weeks. The German political scientist Carlo Masala does not attribute any strategic importance to the small town near Donetsk – unlike other military experts. The focus could be on the Awdiijwka coking plant (AKHZ) – one of the largest producers of coke in Europe. At its peak, up to 4,000 people are said to have worked there; the coking plant was an important supplier to the Ukrainian steel industry, supplying coke, for example, to the Azov steelworks in Mariopol, to ArcelorMittal Krywyj Rih and to the Yenakijewe iron and steelworks.

Now, various sources claim, the industrial colossus is the last bulwark of the Ukrainian armed forces that can prevent the fall of the Avdiivka fortress. If the AKHZ falls, Avdiivka falls. In addition, a paved road for the supply of supplies should be essential. For both parties.

In fact, the snipers could have a decisive influence on the outcome of this battle. Due to the strictly hierarchical leadership structure of the Russian army, the targeted shooting of the officers would throw sand in the gears of the Russian efforts. “If you’re preparing for an attack and suddenly the commander is gone, the whole unit is thrown into turmoil,” said US military expert and retired Army General Robert Scales Wall Street Journal. “Small units go completely haywire when their leader is killed.” It is also worth hunting for experienced artillery shooters whose skills are difficult to replace, says Scales.

Putin’s opponents: civilians who oppose him heavily armed

The Kyiv Post writes: “When the Russians invaded Ukraine at the end of February 2022, every man, if he was an experienced shooter but still a civilian, picked up his rifle and, like thousands of other Kievans, made his way to the front line north of the capital to fight against the Russian army. When the Russians fell back in early April, the demand for suitable snipers in the Ukrainian armed forces was high.” At the beginning of the Russian invasion, the three were from the Kyiv Post interviewed men – all residents of the Kiev area – civilians. Harbovsky was an auto parts dealer, the second owned a store that sold firearms and camping equipment, the third owned a retail store.

All Ukrainian snipers have one advantage over the highly trained NATO snipers, says Harbovsky. “For two years now, no military sniper serving in a NATO national army or elsewhere has come close to experiencing the deadly, bloody and dirty tactical lessons taught to professional marksmen on the battlefields of Ukraine.” The Ukrainian had the same experience like his two fellow fighters interviewed, he had years of experience as a sports shooter before mobilization due to his good income. In Awdiijwka, the successful snipers are said to have been around 1,000 meters away from their targets. A normal distance for these specialists.

At this range, a shooter not only has to deal with basics like muzzle velocity, wind and projectile weight; Keep in mind long-range factors such as the ball’s own rotation, as well as external forces affecting the rotation, ballistic coefficients, atmospheric density, angle to the target and even the rotation of the earth. In principle, recreational shooters have been investing in their military usefulness for years without having the slightest idea of ​​it.

Putin’s risk: If Avdiywka falls, the path to Donetsk is open

Russian troops may have already lost up to a third of the forces deployed around Avdiywka, says former NATO general Erhard Bühler MDR-Podcast “What to do, Mr General”. According to Bühler, the massive attacks so far are more like relief attacks for the troops on the southern front in order to tie down the Ukrainians in the east. The taz sees the fighting as a struggle for a prestige object in a similar way to the fight for Crimea: around Avdiywka in 2014, Ukraine stopped the attempts of Russia and the Russian-controlled Donbass separatists to bring the entire Donetsk area under their control. “Avdiivka remained a Ukrainian thorn in the side of the Russian occupation of Donbass. If Russia were to suffer a serious defeat around Avdiivka, Ukraine would even have access to the megacity of Donetsk, just 15 kilometers away.”

The snipers are also supposed to help block this path. Your task consists of two things, as Sergeant Major Sahin K. (name shortened to protect personality) in the Bundeswehr podcast Inquired explained. Sahin K. is a sniper squad leader in a security squadron of Tactical Air Force Squadron 33. He protects an air base in Rhineland-Palatinate. According to him, snipers are supposed to frighten opponents both during an attack and during a delaying battle and calm their own comrades with their presence. The interviewees Kyiv Post said the same thing: “The key to our work is preparation and patience. To do our job we have to stay alive, and to do that in this war we have to understand how big the danger is out there.”

Various media repeatedly use the comparison with Bakhmut to describe the current events surrounding Avdiijwka. A unit of 20 snipers – known under the code name “Ghosts of Bakhmut” – has been operating in the city in the east of the country for a long time. According to their own statements, they killed 524 Russian occupiers between January and July. However, this number cannot be verified. One of the shooters gave himself up in July BBC confidently: “You can hide from the artillery, but not from snipers.”

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