Dramatic drone footage emerged on Thursday of a Ukrainian ambush on a Russian armored column just outside Brovary, an eastern suburb of Kyiv.
Bellingcat, the specialist open source investigator, said it had geolocated the video, to a lightly inhabited area on the E95 road about 35km (22 miles) from the center of Kyiv, a direct route to the east of the capital where Russian forces have been trying to mass.
The edited 45-second video, released by Ukraine’s armed forces, is a montage of the fighting on the road, which shows a company or more of Russian tanks and armored vehicles coming under repeated attack. Its production quality means the fighting filmed may not have taken place on Thursday.
It is overlaid with an audio of what appears to be a Russian officer reporting an attack to his superiors, which is presented as an effective commentary on the fighting shown. It also says the regiment’s commander was killed, named by Ukrainian media as Col Andrei Zakharov, although this could not be independently confirmed.
“Sixth regiment lost,” the officer tells headquarters. “I can not report about the 6th regiment. I’m collecting data. Lots of losses. They waited for us. Head of the convoy got into the ambush. Commander Regiment killed in action. “
Several military experts described the video as credible and said it showed surprising tactics on the part of the Russian forces, with more than 20 tanks and other armored vehicles on a main road fairly close to the capital.
Ben Barry, a former tank commander with the British army and a land warfare specialist with the thinktank IISS, said: “They either think they are going through a safe area, or they were not well trained or they are moving fast for some other requirement . ”
Tanks moving through a built-up area should normally use close infantry support to prevent ambushes from the side of the road, Barry said. Having watched the footage, he said he thought the Russian armor was probably targeted with artillery or mortar fire because of the nature of the blasts.
On the audio, the Russian apparently reporting the ambush speculates that they may have been targeted by Turkish Bayraktar drones, but parts of the video show poor conditions and low cloud cover not considered ideal for drone attacks.
Parts of the footage also show a TOS-1 heavy flamethrower, clearly marked with a painted O symbol, towards the bottom of the screen. At one point during the fighting it unleashes an incendiary rocket at a target apparently off screen, a demonstration of Russian willingness to use thermobaric weapons during combat.
Another expert on the Russian military who reviewed the video, Rob Lee, a former US marine and PhD student at King’s College London, said he thought this displayed “Very poor tactics” on the part of the Russians, with a force clearly positioned “on an obvious avenue of approach”.