The Sunday Times: Half Kiev’s forces in east Ukraine killed by poor kit, friendly fire

The Sunday Times: Half Kiev’s forces in east Ukraine killed by poor kit, friendly fire | Русская весна

At least a half of the Ukrainian military’s losses during the conflict in east Ukraine were caused by the troops’ poor kit and friendly fire, The Sunday Times reported.

The paper cited a former UK soldier who resigned to become an instructor of the Ukrainian National Guard in May 2014.

The 40-year-old, a naturalised Briton of Ukrainian descent who had served in Afghanistan and the Middle East said Ukraine’s forces made up largely of volunteers and conscripts suffered great casualties because of frequent incidents of friendly fire and the mishandling of weapons, according to the paper.

He said the string of bloody defeats for the Ukrainian army, including last week’s fall of Debaltsevo where the Ukrainian troops had been trapped by Donbas militia was largely due to a failure of command and a lack of skills and discipline.

"Six out of 10 casualties among the Ukrainian volunteers occur because of blue-on-blue shooting [the army term for friendly fire] and the inability to handle weapons," said the man who gave only his nom-de-guerre Saffron, the paper said.

Weapons pullout in east Ukraine to start on Feb. 24 - Donetsk Republic’s Defense Ministry Work is beginning on Sunday for the Kiev military and self-defense fighters of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) to pull out heavy weaponry from the delimitation line, DPR Defense Ministry spokesman Eduard Basurin said by phone on Sunday. "The pullout was expected to start three days ago but nuances were determined and now all the sides have agreed and decided that February 22 will mark a two-week countdown for the weaponry withdrawal," he said, adding the Kiev military had also agreed to start the heavy weaponry pullout from Sunday. The weaponry withdrawal will last about two weeks "as was prescribed in the Minsk accords," the spokesman said.

The ceasefire regime in Donbas officially came into force from 01:00 am Moscow time (00:00 hours Kiev time) on February 15.

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