Dec 18, 2022
- A Russian tank unit attacked another Russian position in Ukraine following an argument, the NYT said.
- The incident demonstrates the vicious in-fighting that has plagued Vladimir Putin’s military.
- There has been open sparring among the leaders of different splinters of Russian forces.
A Russian tank commander deliberately attacked another Russian position in the Zaporizhzhia region of Ukraine this summer following a battlefield argument, a major new report said.
The incident, part of a sweeping investigation by The New York Times, is one of the clearest examples of the vicious in-fighting that has plagued President Vladimir Putin’s military throughout the war.
A Russian drone operator who said he witnessed the episode told the paper that a Russian tank commander drove his T-90 tank toward a group of Russian national guard troops, fired at their checkpoint and blew it up.
“Those types of things happen there,” the soldier said, adding that he has since fled Russia.
The national guard, or Rosgvardia, is not part of the Russian armed forces, and reports to Putin directly.
That rift was one of several at play in the Russian war effort. Other power centers include the mercenary Wagner group, led by Putin ally Yevgeny Prigozhin, and the forces led by Ramzan Kadyrov, the warlord who leads Russia’s semi-autonomous region of Chechnya.
The Russian military appears to have limited coordination with any of them, officials said, according to the paper.
“There was no unified command, there was no single headquarters, there was no single concept and there was no unified planning of actions and command,” retired Russian General Leonid Ivashov told the paper. “It was destined to be a defeat.”
The friction between these factions has spilled out into the open at times, including when Kadyrov and other Putin allies criticized the Russian military’s retreat from a city in Ukraine in October.
Kadyrov said at the time that the “incompetent” general that should be “sent to the front to wash his shame off with blood,” per The New York Times.
Prigozhin echoed the sentiment, the paper said, commenting about Russian military generals: “Send all these pieces of garbage barefoot with machine guns straight to the front.”