“DPR” “Vostok” battalion commander Aleksandr Khodakovsky, currently on the frontline in the Donbass, spoke on his Telegram channel about recent losses in his unit, and pointed at markable difference in approaches to artillery between Russian and Ukrainian armies.
In the first message he explains how he finds it very complicated to advance through the open field which leads to preventable losses, but also tells about his visit to a hospital where he found a “lost” soldier:
Advancing through the fields has its own specifics. We and the paratroopers suffered losses, advanced insignificantly, but still advanced. You can’t just drive up on vehicles – the bodies of the comrades have to be dragged under fire for more than one kilometer on our backs. On day one we are providing cover – the paratroopers are pulling their own and our guys. On the second day, the opposite: we drag the paratroopers and our own. The paratroopers were pulled out but did not have time for one of ours. Pulled him out this morning…
On Sunday I visited the wounded, scattered around different hospitals. I went into the ward – besides our guys, there is another sufferer – who are you, I’m asking? Such and such regiment (Russian), – but where from? From Donetsk…. How is it? – I was mobilised, and then I went on a contract to a Russian regiment – I’ve been lying with a shattered sacrum for three months, and no one is looking for me … So stay down, get treated … But there is no money, he says, the family is in poverty, and I didn’t manage to get a single salary …
I brought something to my own for their needs, the neighbour in the ward got endowed with something too, I can’t give anything to our own in front of the poor fellow. So don’t leave your guys – neither dead nor wounded.
Aleksandr then publishes another message telling how his unit experienced bigger casualties than usual with at least five “irreversible” losses. He also mentions the different approaches to artillery between Ukrainian and Russian armies, pointing specifically at the slow process of approving fire on the Russian side which leads to unnecessary losses:
In two days of fighting during an offensive, in the conditions of the “open fields” I lost five irretrievably and seven wounded. In terms of irretrievable losses, this is more than in the three months of fighting in Mariupol. In principle, I am considered the most “economical” in this regard, and therefore I do not count [losses] by dozens, but this is not a reason not to do an analysis even with such a relatively small number, especially since the current losses were accompanied by more than a modest result.
The main thing: not a single dead or wounded from small arms fire – only from artillery. So, let’s talk about artillery … The own artillery belonging to the advancing units, as a rule, is short-range, and is located in the kill zone [of the enemy]. The reaction time of the enemy is such that we make four or six shots, after which immediately we get an “answer”. This suggests that their artillery intelligence is working effectively. More long-range artillery of ours, which is outside the kill zone, obeys only the senior commander, and it takes from thirty minutes to four hours to engage it, while similar enemy artillery reacts in a matter of minutes – why?
The point, it seems to me, is in the structure of the army organisation and in the structure of army thinking. The NATO approach, which is now actively used in Ukraine, implies the possibility for any sergeant, as part of the implementation of the plan, to request exactly the resource that can help solve the problem. But our system does not imply this: you need to go through the entire chain of approvals before the senior commander decides to allocate you the necessary resource, which, as you yourself understand, is problematic.
Weapons operate according to the planned goals, but the plans of the senior commander may not coincide with the plans on the sector of a frontline where there is a need for a heavier resource, so you have to wait, and at this time the enemy is doing the job and inflicting damage on us. Then our offensives are thwarted, then our defences are broken through. And it’s not subjective – this is how the system works.