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Ryan Robertson

Anchor, Investigative Reporter

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Military

Ukraine fighting against Russia, corruption and apathy

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Ryan Robertson

Anchor, Investigative Reporter

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Ukraine’s list of enemies is growing. In addition to Russia, Ukraine’s Armed Forces is also in a struggle to stop corruption in its ranks while also trying to revive Western support. At the same time Russia is discovering what Ukraine learned last year: attacking defended positions on a modern battlefield, where every move is documented by drones, is hard.

Drone video released by the Ukraine Armed Forces shows the combined efforts of Ukraine’s 14th and 30th Mechanized Brigades against a recent Russian advance near a small village called Synkivka in northeast Ukraine.

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The Russians attacked with infantry and four armored vehicles: two tanks and two infantry fighting vehicles, what Russians call BMPs.

In the video, the tank leading the assault looks like it hits a mine, stopping it dead in its tracks. The rear vehicle falls prey to an Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM), boxing in the other vehicles. The Russian soldiers riding in and on the BMPs flee the vehicles and head for cover in what’s left of a nearby tree stand.

The two remaining drivers try and maneuver their vehicles around the burning and disabled ones blocking them in, but they each run over anti-tank mines. As a final layer of defense, the Ukrainians unleash steel rain on the Russians from above in the form of cluster munitions.

The battalion commander overseeing Ukraine’s defenses in the region told the Wall Street Journal his soldiers were prepared for the attack, since they’ve been fending off similar strikes on a near daily basis since last fall. That’s when Ukraine’s counteroffensive faltered, and Russia began to press the attack once again.

The frontlines in Ukraine haven’t changed much in the last year of fighting, though. Ukraine’s donated Western weapons are proving superior to Russia’s, but Russia’s war machine is huge — far bigger than anything Ukraine can muster.

Based on current trajectories, with Ukraine running out of ammunition, soldiers and supplies, some analysts said Russia can essentially afford to grind down Ukraine’s defenses, even if it takes years and costs a few hundred thousand more lives.

That’s why Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his government are working feverishly to secure more Western aid. That means Ukraine must fix the homegrown problems plaguing its war effort, like internal corruption.

Ukraine’s Security Service said it discovered a plot by current and former high-ranking officials in the Ministry of Defense who were working with managers at Lviv Arsenal to embezzle around $40 million dollars. The Security Service said a contract for 100,000 mortar shells was paid, but no shells delivered.

Five people are under investigation in the scheme.

While the struggle to secure future aid continues, Ukraine is taking possession of items previously promised.

Ukrainian media reported M60 Armored Vehicle Launched-Bridges (AVLBs), are now in Ukraine and are being used by the 5th Separate Tank Brigade. AVLBs can deploy 60-foot scissor bridges, which can support up to 72 tons. That’s enough for an Abrams tank.

The AVLBs can be used in essentially leapfrog maneuvers, meaning once they deploy the bridge, tanks and IFVs cross first. Then the M60 crosses, packs up the bridge and moves it to the next crossing. If a tank brigade is running with a few AVLBs, the advance can progress that much quicker.

The U.S. sent around 20 AVLBs to Ukraine, and they could be used to gain ground in several areas along the frontline. They could be used to gain ground along the left bank of the Dnipro River, where Ukraine established a beachhead last year, or to cross trenches and other anti-tank defenses.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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[RYAN ROBERTSON]

RUSSIA IS DISCOVERING WHAT UKRAINE LEARNED LAST YEAR: ATTACKING DEFENDED POSITIONS ON A MODERN BATTLEFIELD, WHERE EVERY MOVE IS DOCUMENTED BY DRONES, IS HARD.

THIS VIDEO SHOWS THE COMBINED EFFORTS OF UKRAINE’S 14TH AND 30TH MECHANIZED BRIGADES AGAINST A RECENT RUSSIAN ADVANCE NEAR A SMALL VILLAGE CALLED SYNKIVKA IN NORTHEAST UKRAINE.

THE RUSSIANS ATTACKED WITH INFANTRY AND FOUR ARMORED VEHICLES: TWO TANKS AND TWO INFANTRY FIGHTING VEHICLES, WHAT RUSSIANS CALL BMPs.

IT LOOKS LIKE THE FIRST TANK HITS A MINE, STOPPING IT DEAD IN ITS TRACKS. THE REAR TANK FALLS PREY TO AN ANTI-TANK GUIDED MISSILE, BOXING IN THE OTHER VEHICLES. THE RUSSIAN SOLDIERS RIDING IN AND ON THE BMPs FLEE THE VEHICLES AND HEAD FOR COVER IN WHAT’S LEFT OF A NEARBY TREESTAND. THE TWO DRIVERS OF THE BMPs TRY AND MANEUVER AROUND THE BURNING AND DISABLED TANKS, BUT THEY EACH RUN OVER ANTI-TANK MINES. AS A FINAL LAYER OF DEFENSE, THE UKRAINIANS UNLEASH STEEL RAIN ON THE RUSSIANS FROM ABOVE IN THE FORM OF CLUSTER MUNITIONS.

THE BATTALION COMMANDER OVER-SEEING UKRAINE’S DEFENSES IN THE REGION TOLD THE WALL STREET JOURNAL HIS SOLDIERS WERE PREPARED FOR THE ATTACK, SINCE THEY’VE BEEN FENDING OFF SIMILAR STRIKES ON A NEAR DAILY BASIS SINCE LAST FALL. THAT’S WHEN UKRAINE’S COUNTEROFFENSIVE FALTERED AND RUSSIA BEGAN TO PRESS THE ATTACK ONCE AGAIN.

THE FRONTLINES IN UKRAINE HAVEN’T CHANGED MUCH IN THE LAST YEAR OF FIGHTING, THOUGH. UKRAINE’S DONATED WESTERN WEAPONS ARE PROVING SUPERIOR TO RUSSIA’S, BUT RUSSIA’S WAR MACHINE IS HUGE. FAR BIGGER THAN ANYTHING UKRAINE CAN MUSTER. BASED ON CURRENT TRAJECTORIES, WITH UKRAINE RUNNING OUT OF AMMUNITION, SOLDIERS, AND SUPPLIES SOME ANALYSTS SAY RUSSIA CAN ESSENTIALLY AFFORD TO GRIND DOWN UKRAINE’S DEFENSES, EVEN IF IT TAKES YEARS AND COSTS A FEW HUNDRED THOUSAND MORE LIVES.

THAT’S WHY UKRAINE’S PRESIDENT VOLODOYMYR ZELENSKYY AND HIS GOVERNMENT ARE WORKING FEVERISHLY TO SECURE MORE WESTERN AID. WHICH MEANS FIXING THE HOMEGROWN PROBLEMS PLAGUING THEIR WAR EFFORT, LIKE INTERNAL CORRUPTION.

UKRAINE’S SECURITY SERVICE SAYS IT DISCOVERED A PLOT BY CURRENT AND FORMER HIGH-RANKING OFFICIALS IN THE MINISTRY OF DEFENSE WHO WERE WORKING WITH MANAGERS AT LVIV ARSENAL TO EMBEZZLE AROUND $40 MILLION DOLLARS. THE SECURITY SERVICE SAYS A CONTRACT FOR 100,000 MORTAR SHELLS WAS PAID, BUT NO SHELLS DELIVERED. FIVE PEOPLE ARE UNDER INVESTIGATION IN THE SCHEME.

WHILE THE STRUGGLE TO SECURE FUTURE AID CONTINUES, UKRAINE IS TAKING POSSESSION OF ITEMS PREVIOUSLY PROMISED. UKRAINIAN MEDIA REPORTS SHOW M60 ARMORED VEHICLE LAUNCHED-BRIDGES, OR AVLBs, ARE NOW IN UKRAINE AND ARE BEING USED BY THE 5TH SEPARATE TANK BRIGADE. AVLBs CAN DEPLOY 60 FOOT SCISSOR BRIDGES, WHICH CAN SUPPORT UP TO 72 TONS. THAT’S ENOUGH FOR AN ABRAMS TANK.

THE AVLBs CAN BE USED IN ESSENTIALLY LEAPFROG MANEUVERS MEANING ONCE THEY DEPLOY THE BRIDGE, TANKS AND IFVS CROSS FIRST, THEN THE M60 CROSSES, PACKS UP THE BRIDGE AND MOVES IT TO THE NEXT CROSSING. IF A TANK BRIGADE IS RUNNING WITH A FEW AVLBs, THE ADVANCE CAN PROGRESS THAT MUCH QUICKER.

THE U.S. SENT AROUND 20 AVLBs TO UKRAINE, AND THEY COULD BE USED TO GAIN GROUND IN SEVERAL AREAS ALONG THE FRONTLINE, LIKE THE LEFT BANK OF THE DNIPRO RIVER WHERE UKRAINE ESTABLISHED A BEACHHEAD LATE LAST YEAR.