Raid in Belgorod, Russia Leaves Path of American Humvees & MRAPS

On Monday morning, Russia’s Belgorod Oblast discovered itself underneath invasion—only a yr after having itself served as a launchpad for Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The oblast—adjoining to Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest metropolis—had already been hit by Ukrainian drones, bombarded by artillery and helicopter assaults, and even blasted mistakenly by glide bombs unintentionally dropped by an overflying Russian bomber.

However such incidents aren’t the identical as having troops pour out of a column of armored automobiles to grab a number of communities.

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Two totally different teams of pro-Ukrainian Russians—the Russian Volunteer Corps and Freedom of Russia Legion (the latter formally a part of Ukraine’s Territorial Protection Power)—claimed accountability for “liberating” the cities of Kozinka and Gora-Podol within the southwestern nook of the oblast on the Ukrainian border. These cities lay alongside the 14K-4 (AKA T1705) freeway working from Okhtyrna, Ukraine to the Russian metropolis of Tomarovka.

Although Ukrainian particular operations forces additionally launched smaller-scale border incursions to the east, Ukrainian sources coyly denied involvement within the assault. Although, the sources typically did so in an ironic register, referring to Russia’s personal transparently false denials that it was behind separatist forces assailing Ukraine in 2014.

The attacking forces, which embody not less than one T-72 tank and mortars for fire support, even pushed into the bigger metropolis of Grayvoron. Drone assaults additionally struck different elements of Belgorod oblast, together with the FSB safety service headquarters. Native civilians tried to search out security in bomb shelters, solely to search out them locked and inaccessible. Russia even felt compelled to evacuate nuclear weapons saved in its Belgorod-22 storage facility.

ukraine russia conflict war

A deputy commander for the Freedom of Russia Legion, who gave his name signal as Caesar (third R), stands with fellow fighters throughout a presentation for the media in northern Ukraine, not removed from the Russian border, on Could 24, 2022.

SERGEY BOBOK//Getty Photographs

Russian defenses within the area had been apparently minimal at first, with so many troops dedicated to occupying territory in Ukraine. Finally, Su-25 Frogfoot assault jets had been dispatched to assault the raiding drive.

The raiders ultimately withdrew by Wednesday, and the extent of the injury and casualties is troublesome to evaluate. Photographs present that the attackers apparently captured a BTR-82 wheeled APC at border crossing, and destroyed an anti-tank gun and a few vans.

ukraine russia conflict war

Russian Volunteer Corps fighters pose with a captured BTR-82 wheeled infantry preventing automobile on Could 24, 2023.

SERGEY BOBOK//Getty Photographs

Russian media claims that 70 of the raiders had been killed. The Ukraine-allied Russian Volunteer Corps, then again, declare that not one of the raiders had been killed, and the Freedom of Russia legion reported 2 killed and 10 wounded. Within the group’s account, resistance on the bottom was restricted, and Russian air and artillery strikes fell indiscriminately on native communities.

Russian sources additionally report that two civilians had been killed and 13 had been wounded.

Regardless of the fact, the attackers seemingly left behind traces of their presence: three broken M1151/1152 armored Humvees and two M1224 MaxxPro MRAP automobiles offered by the U.S. as safety help to Ukraine. (Russia claims that the attackers additionally deserted a T-72 tank, however images confirming that declare are missing. There’s, nonetheless, footage of a Ukrainian T-72 towing an M1224.)

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This was mildly awkward for the U.S., which doesn’t formally assist the usage of U.S. navy help for assaults on Russian soil—although it doesn’t rule out Ukraine’s proper to make assaults on navy targets in precept.

The White Home is reportedly investigating, as the usage of these automobiles doesn’t appear to have been licensed and certain wouldn’t have been greenlit if requested. Markings on the automobiles also appear to match some seen in movies launched earlier by the Ukraine-allied Russian militants.

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In the meantime, the pro-Ukrainian Russian teams declare that their assault truly recaptured three M1224s (or—presumably—4, as seen in some footage) which Russia captured from Ukraine in Bakhmut. Additionally they declare, nonetheless, that they needed to abandon one in the course of the withdrawal. Hypothetically, Russian forces may have staged further losses utilizing a few of their captured Humvees and M1224s to put the blame on the U.S.

Humvee and MaxxPro for Ukraine

Ukraine’s navy truly acquired its first 40 Humvees from the U.S. approach again in 2001, when it deployed its 95th Airborne brigade for peacekeeping duties in Kosovo. However after Russia first invaded Ukraine in 2014, 500 more followed throughout January of 2022. That included many up-armored M1114, M1115B1, M1151, and M1152 Humvee fashions meant for fight, M1152s and M998s outfitted as ambulances, and M1025s specifically modified to hold AN/TPQ-36 counter-battery radars, which have been used to focus on Russian artillery with nice success. The Humvees had been used most incessantly by Ukrainian Airborne, Mountain Assault, Naval Infantry and Particular Ops troops.

Following Russia’s invasion, the U.S. turned up the spigot. They’ve despatched over 2000 Humvees to Ukraine since April 2022, and some dozen extra have been contributed by Slovenia and Luxembourg.

fierce fighting continues near bakhmut

Ukrainian soldier leans in opposition to a Humvee whereas smoking a cigarette in Bakhmut in April 2023.

World Photographs Ukraine//Getty Photographs

Beginning in July of 2022, the Humvees had been complemented by chunkier M1224 MaxxPro mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) armored vans, with 440 delivered to date. These weigh in at an enormous 15 or 16 tons, and have the traditional V-shaped hull designed to maximise survival odds of the as much as seven passengers in opposition to mines.

ukrainian forces reclaim territory from russia in the east

Ukrainian navy M1224 MaxxPro mine-resistant truck seen in Nyzhche Solone, Kharkiv Oblast of Ukraine on october 17, 2022.

Carl Courtroom//Getty Photographs

Additionally apparently misplaced was a Polish-supplied 5-ton AMZ Dzik-2 infantry mobiliy automobile. These automobiles have the capability to hold eight passengers and have rotating roof-mounted turrets.

The Humvee Offensive

Humvees and MRAPs are priceless to Ukrainian navy as a result of they supply extra protected transport property for its personnel. As well as, a few of Ukraine’s items are recognized to make use of Humvees very aggressively in a quick assault function. Thus, any used and misplaced on an basically symbolic raid could also be seen as wasteful.

Nevertheless, wars additionally happen on a political and psychological battlefield. Ukraine and anti-Putin militants from Russia possible hope that the stunning raid may have deeply embarrassed Moscow and undermined Putin’s narrative of success following the Russian forces’ seize of town of Bakhmut. In principle, Russia is perhaps compelled to bolster border safety forces on the expense of these deployed to Ukraine.

Some might worry that the spectacle of American armored vans working amok on Russian soil may carry a sure narrative weight not appreciated by the White Home. However, nonetheless, a Humvee or M1224 isn’t some unique offensive weapon like a Tomahawk cruise missile.

The actual embarrassment could be {that a} modest drive mounted on armored vans designed for counter insurgency warfare managed to penetrate the border and seize a number of cities over the course of 24 hours earlier than being chased out.

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Sébastien Roblin has written on the technical, historic, and political features of worldwide safety and battle for publications together with 19FortyFive, The Nationwide Curiosity, MSNBC,, Inside Unmanned Methods and Conflict is Boring. He holds a Grasp’s diploma from Georgetown College and served with the Peace Corps in China. You possibly can comply with his articles on Twitter