A Ukrainian military formation that has been central to Kyiv’s counteroffensive is in disarray because of problems with leadership and command on the battlefield, it has been reported.
In September, Ukrainian public broadcaster Suspilne said that Lieutenant Colonel Oleksandr Sak had been removed from his post as commander of Ukraine’s 47th Separate Mechanized Brigade.
Ukrainian military officials have not commented on the reasons, but the website Military Land, which reports on Ukraine’s armed forces, said that there were rumors that Sak’s dismissal was “connected to the brigade’s performance on the battlefield.”
His unit, alongside Ukraine’s 82nd Air Assault Brigade, helped break through Russian lines in southern Ukraine during the summer counter-offensive aimed at recapturing Moscow-occupied territory.
Fighting on the Tokmak front near the city of Orikhiv in the summer, the 47th Brigade was one of the first to take part in a counteroffensive in the Zaporizhzhia region. In a boost for Kyiv’s efforts, under Sak’s command, it entered the village of Robotyne on 22 August, from which residents were evacuated.
But Military Land said that the liberation had come at a “serious cost.” It also said that Sak’s replacement, Oleksandr Pavliy, had “failed to understand the brigade structure.”
The website said orders were not being carried out, which included sending snipers, mortar and artillery crews to the front as assault infantry.
The brigade which is also named Magura, after a goddess in Slavic mythology, was formed in April 2022 and has faced other setbacks in recent months, most notably on July 22, when Dimytro Rybakov, the-then brigade commander, was killed.
Valerii Markus, a sergeant-major in the brigade, complained in July about the decisions of the unit’s command and said there was lack of interest regarding soldiers’ morale. He asked to be demoted because of an ongoing disagreement with the unit’s commanders.
Markus, who met with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky to discuss his concerns, posted on Facebook that he was “totally opposed” to the decisions on the brigade’s deployment and development.
“We haven’t been allowed to develop the military unit in line with the values we have stated at the time it was being created,” he said in comments reported by Ukrainian media. “I no longer have opportunities to influence or rectify the situation.”
However, Rustam Mustafaiev, sergeant major of the 47th Separate Mechanized Brigade’s strike company, accused Markus of “trying to promote himself on the back of other people’s blood.”
He also rejected Markus’ criticism of the brigade’s command, saying that it worked hard to “ensure the most favorable conditions.”
Newsweek has contacted the Ukrainian Armed Forces for comment.