Ukraine: City of Irpin is shelled by Russian forces
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The insights came from three former squaddies who had been involved in the so-called “Battle of Irpin”, which earlier this week allowed Ukrainian forces to recapture a suburb of the city. They also noted the lack of discipline visible in the Russian military, which has reportedly suffered miscommunication and disorganisation since the invasion began.
The latest accounts of the bid to take back the Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine paint a gruesome picture of a bloody war that has cost the lives of over a thousand civilians already.
Irpin, a satellite city of Kyiv, was one of the first areas to be attacked by invading Russian forces when the conflict began in February.
It is believed Russian military leadership wanted to capture it and neighbouring Bucha to besiege Kyiv – however this has stalled.
Nearly five weeks into an invasion in which it has failed to capture any major cities, Russia has said it would pull troops back near Kyiv and Chernihiv “to increase mutual trust” for peace talks.
The move was met by a sceptical response, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stating that he and his people were “not naïve”.
The UK Ministry of Defence said that Vladimir Putin had been forced to withdraw their forces after taking heavy losses.
It warned that Russia would compensate for its lack of success on the ground with intensified air bombardment.
In early March, Irpin was the location of an accused war crime, when Russian mortar units shelled a humanitarian column, killing eight.
This week, Ukrainian forces launched a fierce counterattack against the parts Russian forces had captured.
The counter-offensive allowed them to regain 80 percent of the territory by March 23, according to a local member of parliament, and had recaptured the city by March 28.
However, this has not been verified, and Ukrainian officials suggest they are very close to recapturing Irpin.
The operation to retake the city relies on fighters who have travelled to Ukraine to support the armed forces there, including former British soldiers.
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Three ex-squaddies told the Telegraph that they had crossed into Ukraine approximately a month ago and signed up to fight.
The sniper and two former parachutists recounted the unforgiving Russian artillery blitzes, and that the uncollected bodies of dead Russian soldiers were being eaten by stray dogs as the fighting continued.
Gary Bonini, a sniper who served with the Royal Regiment of Scotland, explained that the attack “went on for hours”.
He added: “It was much worse than anything we experienced in Afghanistan.”
The former soldiers explained that they had seen first-hand how discipline had evaporated among the Russian ranks – which have reportedly been demoralised by the heavy losses.
Mr Bonini, who served two tours of Afghanistan, commented: “We found one soldier wandering around on the battlefield without his weapon.”
The British ex-soldiers reported no complaints concerning the equipment they had been given, which included plenty of anti-tank weapons.
Images from Irpin show the devastation of the Russian bombing, with obliterated buildings and burned out vehicles.
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