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Russia’s DIY vehicles torn to pieces after failed advance

A Russian unit that conducted an aborted advance on Ukrainian forces left behind vintage military vehicles that had been patched up in a do-it-yourself style, it has been reported.

Russia’s 39th Separate Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade staged an attack toward Novomykhailivka, in the south of the Donetsk oblast, on Tuesday, according to the Ukrainian General Staff.

After the Russian assault collapsed, the troops abandoned what looked like two improvised personnel carriers based on MT-LB armored vehicles, according to the X (formerly Twitter) account Ukraine Weapons Tracker, which said they had been “damaged after running over anti-tank landmines.” The body of a dead Russian soldier was also said to have been left at the site.

The ML-TB is a Soviet-era amphibious, tracked armored fighting vehicle that has been in use since the 1970s. Since the start of the war, Russia has lost 486 of the vehicles, according to the Oryx website, which uses open sources to track equipment losses on both sides.

Ukraine Weapons Tracker’s post showed images of the vehicles, which Forbes noted had an add-on 23-millimeter cannon and a new open compartment with a removable roof for the crew, who were left vulnerable to direct strikes by mortars, artillery and explosive-laden drones.

A Russian Telegram user said in a post made in April that the adaptations allowed a soldier to stand up and scan his surroundings while traveling.

“The infantry rides behind the armor, watching the situation,” and the modifications made for “easier evacuation of people and loading of ammunition.”

Newsweek has contacted the Russian defense ministry by email for comment.

It comes as Ukrainian armed forces continue their counteroffensive to recapture Russian-occupied territory across much of southern Ukraine. Russian regiments and brigades are also attacking around Avdiivka, north of Donetsk.

Up to three Russian battalions from the 8th Combined Arms Army of the Southern Military District, supported by tanks and armored vehicles, intensified their offensive operations near Avdiivka, the Ukrainian General Staff reported.

Geolocated footage from Tuesday and Wednesday confirmed Russian troop advancements in the Donetsk region, southwest and northwest of Avdiivka near Sieverne and Stepove, respectively.

Russian bloggers celebrated the advances, while the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said on Wednesday that Moscow’s troops “are applying lessons learned from operations in southern Ukraine” to other sectors of the front.

However, the think tank said that these successes “are unlikely to translate into wider operational and strategic gains for Russian forces.”

It also noted that Avdiivka was a well-fortified and defended Ukrainian stronghold, “which will likely complicate” Russia’s ability “to closely approach or fully capture.”

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