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ISW: Worn-out elite Russian units compel reliance on weaker forces

Ukrainian counteroffensive operations degraded relatively more elite Russian Airborne (VDV) elements responsible for counterattacking in the Novoprokopivka area, Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
Ukrainian soldiers
Ukrainian soldiers. Photo: General Staff of Ukraine via Facebook.
ISW: Worn-out elite Russian units compel reliance on weaker forces

Russian forces rely more on degraded units to counter Ukrainian advances near Novoprokopivka, Zaporizhzhia Oblast, ISW reports.

According to the US-based think tank, Institute for the Study of War (ISW), the elements of Russia’s 42nd Motorized Rifle Division, specifically the 70th and 71st Motorized Rifle Regiments, have been increasingly involved in limited counterattacks in the Novoprokopivka area over the past week.

Previously, more elite Russian Airborne units like the 7th and 76th Airborne Divisions were responsible for counterattacking against Ukrainian breach in the area. However, the ISW report suggests these airborne units have been significantly degraded.

After heavy losses earlier in the Ukrainian counteroffensive, the 42nd Motorized Rifle Division units could rotate out of the area in August. But the ISW says “roughly a month of respite and possible reconstitution are unlikely to offset the significant degradation that elements of the 70th and 71st Motorized Rifle Regiments suffered while defending earlier in the counteroffensive.”

The US-based think tank concluded that the Russian command risks rendering the already degraded elements of the 70th and 71st Motorized Rifle Regiments combat ineffective if they heavily commit these elements to counterattacking the Ukrainian advance near Novoprokopivka.

Other key takeaways from the report:

  • The tactical situation in Verbove remains unclear as Ukrainian forces continued offensive operations in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast on September 26.
  • Elements of the 42nd Motorized Rifle Division are reportedly deployed as far back as Tokmak, continuing to suggest that the Russian command has not manned the multi-echeloned defense in southern Ukraine in depth.
  • Interethnic tensions appear to be sowing division between elements of the Russian 42nd Guards Motorized Rifle Regiment defending against the Ukrainian counteroffensive in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
  • Russian forces conducted a series of Shahed-131/136 drone strikes on port and military targets in Ukraine on the night of September 25-26.

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