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Military: Russians use scorched earth tactics in Donbas, destroying everything with KAB bombs

In the Donbas, Russia is pursuing a scorched earth policy aimed at flattening Ukraine’s defensive positions through overwhelming aerial firepower – precision-guided bombs from jets alongside sustained rocket strikes from helicopter gunships, as per the Ukrainian military spokesperson.
A Russian FAB-500-M62 500 kg bomb with a UMPK gliding kit under the wing of a Su-34 front-line bomber. Photo via Militarnyi
Military: Russians use scorched earth tactics in Donbas, destroying everything with KAB bombs

Russian forces have resorted to scorched earth tactics in the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, bombarding and demolishing Ukrainian defensive positions and structures through intensive aerial bombardment utilizing precision-guided bombs. Spokesperson Ilya Yevlash of the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ Eastern Military Grouping stated this in his remarks to Liga. Earlier, the military reported the stabilization of the frontline west of Avdiivka.

As Russia activated the use of aircraft in eastern Ukraine, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry reported 13 downed Russian warplanes in February, including 10 Su-34 fighter-bombers, 2 Su-35 fighter jets, and one A-50 long-range radar detection and control aircraft. Oleshchuk reported the destruction of another Russian Su-34 near Mariupol on 1 March, and another Su-34 on the next day, bringing the claimed tally of downed Russian aircraft to 15 in 31 days.

Yevlash reported that the Russian forces are employing Ka-52 and Mi-8 helicopter gunships, which launch unguided aircraft missiles, and that they persist in deploying guided aerial bombs such as the KAB weighing 500, 1,000, or 1,500 kg, from Su-34 tactical bombers and Su-35 fighter jets.

Military: Ukraine stabilizes front west of Avdiivka, holds key villages

Yevlash stated that the Russians do not hesitate to expend multiple such munitions daily to overwhelm any resistance:

“Unfortunately, they have a lot of KABs. They modernize them, produce something of their own. And now they have changed their scorched earth tactics when they simply use two to six KABs that can be carried by one bomber every day. And they don’t even spare them for mortar or tank positions. That is, whatever specifically hinders them, they can drop a KAB there,” Yevlash said.

The Russians have adapted their approach, employing swarms of these guided bombs in a ruthless scorched earth doctrine.

Despite having accuracy issues, when Russia’s KAB guided bombs of such immense destructive capability detonate on an installation, the resulting devastation is absolute and complete, Yevlash noted.

The spokesperson emphasized the need to counter Russian aerial dominance by developing strong air defenses and electronic warfare, in order “to disrupt the course of these guided bombs and look for countermeasures from aircraft, because now they are relying primarily on this, because the [Russian] aviation works in favor of infantry, in favor of their offensive units. Without aviation, it will be very difficult for them,” to employ the scorched earth tactics, he summarized.

On 29 February, the Ukrainian Defense Forces shot down three Russian aircraft, including a Su-34 fighter-bomber in the eastern direction. On 1 March, another Russian plane attempting to strike Ukrainian positions in the Mariupol sector was shot down. On 2 March, the Ukrainian Air Force downed a Su-34 and struck two more Russian planes.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported earlier that Russian forces achieved temporary localized air superiority for the first time in Ukraine during the recent offensive to capture Avdiivka, providing close air support to ground troops.

Ukrainian Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief Oleksandr Syrskyi announced on 17 February that the Defense Forces had withdrawn from Avdiivka near occupied Donetsk City, followed by retreats from Lastochkyne on 26 February and from Stepove and Severne on 27 February – the mentioned three villages lie west of Avdiivka.

Read also:

Military: Ukraine stabilizes front west of Avdiivka, holds key villages

Air Force: Ukraine engages two Russian warplanes, downing one Su-34 bomber

Ukraine downs Russian Su-34 bomber, 14/17 explosive drones over past day

Commander: Ukrainians regain some lost positions near Avdiivka amid Russian attacks

Ukraine downs 2 more Russian Su-34 over past day

ISW: Russia achieved localized air superiority in Avdiivka before capturing it

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