Videos show close combat in Ukraine

Ukrainian forces have mobilized fleets of armored vehicles provided by the West of carrying out daring offensive assaults using machine guns and anti-tank weapons, according to video circulating on social media and verified by The Washington Post, striking images that offer a rare glimpse into close combat in a war largely defined by long-range artillery.

A series of first-person videos filmed in southern Ukraine show a gunner mounted on an armored Humvee, furiously firing a .50 caliber M2 Browning machine gun and raking nearby buildings with rounds roughly the size of of cigars. The vehicle then stops and the gunner swings his barrel at apparent muzzle flashes, squeezing the last rounds from the ammunition belt.

“Ammo! Ammo!” he shouts in English, struggling with the feed tray cover he has to lift before loading another mat. The gunner, who appears to have a North American accent, is wearing Ukrainian military patches and a yellow armband, suggesting he is part of the Western volunteer effort.

The images underscore the scale of US support for Ukraine, consisting of billions of dollars worth of weapons and equipment that, in many ways, has kept Ukraine’s overstaffed and over-armed military keeping pace. and, in some cases, to outwit the more heavily armed Russian army. military. It also reveals the reality of combat: heavy artillery shells fired from miles away can hit an enemy, but to reclaim ground, ground forces must find and kill adversaries at close range.

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The Post used geotagging to verify the battle filmed in Ternovi Pody, a village halfway between Mykolaiv and Kherson, the strategic towns at the heart of Ukraine’s offensive to retake ground in the south. It’s unclear when the fighting took place, but wounded Ukrainian troops recently described harrowing combat in the area, where the artillery needed to drive out Russian troops was in short supply.

The Russian Defense Ministry has reported fighting in the region, where Ukrainian forces are trying to break through the front lines and push towards Kherson, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in Prague on Friday that the Pentagon had observed a some “success” in Kherson and in Kharkiv in the north. “It’s very, very encouraging,” he added.

Hundreds of Americans and Europeans – some with prior military experience, some without – joined the war on Ukraine’s side. At least half a dozen US citizens They are believed to have been killed in the fighting while two others, both military veterans, were taken prisoner and remain in the custody of Russian proxies. A third was reported missing in April and his status remains unknown.

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As the video continues, the shooter picks up a tool to open the feed tray cover. Instead of more shots, however, another soldier inside the Humvee passes an AT-4, an anti-tank rocket point and fire. He fires this weapon at a target so close to launch and the impact is almost simultaneous.

As small arms fire passes overhead and hits the ground around the Humvee, the gunner pleads for more shots as he prepares to fire another AT-4 handed to him from the vehicle interior. “Fifty caliber ammunition!” he shouts. “We take pictures! »

Weapons like the AT-4 anti-tank launcher are intended for close combat with a maximum effective range of around 300 meters for rounds launched from a single-use tube. The United States supplied thousands of such cartridges to Ukraine, as well as armored Humvees.

Footage shared on social media on September 8 shows a Ukrainian assault on a village in the southern region of Mykolaiv. (Video: Twitter)

As the videos suggest, this operation was particularly daring, traveling across flat, open terrain in thin-skinned vehicles not designed to withstand heavy anti-armour weapons.

The Humvee parks at one point, becoming a stationary target for would-be attackers. The glass inside the vehicle is shown sandblasted but intact.

The video also reflects the candid moments of combat that rarely make them war movies. The gunner, apparently experienced in driving a machine gun, sometimes struggles to work his fine motor skills through the thin black gloves he wears to protect his hands from heat and cuts.

Brass slips through his fingers when attempting to reload before succeeding, and seconds later puts the lid back on the feed tray. Although only moments, to those inside the vehicle it probably felt like an eternity with Russian forces nearby. The shooter squeezes the butterfly trigger for another barrage of shots before it jams again, forcing him to start the process over.

This time he is more deliberate about a technique taught to soldiers, holding the start of the belt firmly against the left side of the weapon before slamming the lid shut.

Another one video from what appears to be the same operation suggests that the soldiers are not very concerned about the possibility of Russian forces retaliating with anti-armour weapons. Such ammunition would easily destroy Humvees. But as the video shows, a swarm of Ukrainian vehicles heads towards a group of buildings under fire as dismounted troops move towards them. No glimpses of the enemy can be seen.

Analysts at the Institute for the Study of War said that the footage indicated that Ternovi Pody had been taken over by Ukraine.

Dan Lamothe contributed to this report.

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