Salute = Sniper Check
Hard lessons in Ukraine
Guards Maj. Gen. Andrei Sukhovetsky, the commanding general of the Russian 7th Guards Mountain Air Assault Division, was killed in fighting in Ukraine last week.
It’s never a good idea to arrive with a series of other command cars and to have a gilded staff scurrying around and saluting you when there might be Ukrainian snipers in the area. Lesson learned, the late MGEN Sukhovetsky. They’ll shoot the big shot first. Of course, he’s easily replaced by another. In this case, it is Guards Colonel Aleksandr Vladimirovich Kornev. Maybe Kornev will dress like a common soldier and will learn the lesson?
7th Guards Mountain Air Assault Division unit patch. It is pretty, but it doesn’t belong on the shoulder of a combat uniform….
Russian Airborne Forces or Vozdushno-desantnye voyska Rossii, VDV, are a separate branch of the armed forces of the Russian Federation. They are a more professional, better-trained component of the Russian Army, composed of professional soldiers and not of srochniki – conscripted soldiers aged eighteen.
In Ukraine, they deployed primarily as light mechanized infantry maneuvering in advance of the main body of Russian forces as reconnaissance and shock troops.
They wear bright blue berets, a proud symbol of their special status.
Many rural Americans identify those UN color berets as natural targets. Obviously so do Ukrainians.
The VDV participated heavily in the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. During the opening hours of the invasion, the VDV attempted to secure key airports. In each case they were all but completely destroyed by Ukrainian ground forces.
This is how it Happened
The VDV dropped troopers by parachute and landed other troops by Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopters in an effort to secure Hostomel Airport (near Kiev) in what became known as the Battle of Antonov Airport.
The VDV troops rallied on the airport runway. While they assembled, they were counterattacked by the Ukrainian National Guard’s 4th Rapid Reaction Brigade (technically a police unit), supported by the Ukrainian Air Force. They encircled the unsupported VDV troops and destroyed them, with a few escaping to nearby woods. The next day, the battle resumed, and the remnant of the VDV were rescued by the main force of Russian Armor arriving from Belarus and Chernobyl, taking the airport.
40 kilometers south of Kiev in Vasylkiv, VDV paratroopers dropped attempting to secure the Vasylkiv Air Base. The Ukrainian Air Force claimed to have shot down two Ilyushin Il-76 heading to Vasylkiv, each carrying more than 100 paratroopers. Without any support from air or ground forces, the VDV troops in Vasylkiv were eventually destroyed, giving victory on the Battle of Vasylkiv to the Ukrainians.
VDV troops with BMD-2s and BTR-Ds were spotted, maneuvering south of Hastomel in Bucha near Kiev. VDV and Ground Forces’ units were destroyed on the same day by Turkish-made Bayraktar drones. The Ukrainian government claimed that, “more than 100 units of enemy equipment were destroyed”.
Guards Maj. Gen. Andrei Sukhovetsky, who had been appointed deputy commander of the 41st Combined Arms Army (in addition to his role with the VDV) was killed by a Ukrainian Spetznaz sniper on the outskirts of Kiev, as discussed above. At the same time that they bagged the deputy commander of the Russian Army in theater, Ukrainian army forces destroyed a significant portion of the VDV between Bucha and Irpin (Kiev suburbs).
It seems that the Russian Professional Army has had its nose bloodied. President Putin was reportedly furious at the complete failure of the elite VDV in combat.