Drone footage shows how Russians destroyed Ukrainian town in savage battle

It’s also another insight into the importance of drones in modern warfare, as well as the Russian approach to combat and the ultimate resistance of Ukrainian units.

The drone video shows that every property in the middle of the city is destroyed or damaged. Most appear to have been hit by Russian artillery or rocket fire.

“The Russians are not just destroying Popasna. They are removing it from the map of the Luhansk region,” according to the head of the Luhansk regional military administration, Serhiy Hayday.

The drone video was originally posted by a pro-Russian Telegram channel and appears to have been taken by a Russian military drone.

The drone appears to have been used to help Russian infantry hunt down the last remaining Ukrainian defenders in the area. In the end, it hovers over where the Ukrainians are cornered and surrender.

CNN has geotagged and verified the authenticity of the video. It’s unclear when the video was taken, but heavy fighting has taken place in Popasna in recent days as the Russian advance ran into Ukrainian defenses in the town.

The video begins with artillery fire landing near a trench just north of central Popasna. At least one Ukrainian soldier is seen leaving the trench and taking refuge in what appears to be a nearby hangar.

The drone video was originally posted by a pro-Russian Telegram channel and appears to have been taken by a Russian military drone.

At least four Russian soldiers are heading towards the hangar. A number of explosions are seen, including two from grenades thrown by a Ukrainian soldier inside the hangar.

Drone video shows a Russian soldier throwing at least four grenades into or near the hangar in which Ukrainian forces are sheltering. It is not known whether any Ukrainian soldiers were killed or injured by the explosions.

A later segment shows a number of Ukrainian soldiers lying face down outside. Again, the drone is being used to monitor the immediate surroundings, apparently to look for any movement or additional Ukrainian soldiers.

Next, it shows at least six Ukrainian soldiers being escorted, hands on their heads, and placed under Russian guard.

It is not known whether any Ukrainian soldiers were killed or injured in the explosions.

Some pro-Russian social media accounts claim the Russian soldiers are actually private military contractors to the Wagner Group – a Kremlin-linked private military contractor that has sent operatives to Syria, Libya and several African countries – who has been involved in the Donbass conflict since 2014. CNN cannot verify this, but Western intelligence agencies have said Russian forces employed private contractors or mercenaries in the conflict.

The video also gives insight into the Russian mode of warfare, according to which ground offensives must be preceded by massive “indirect fire” from artillery and rocket systems. The Russian forces have a great superiority over the Ukrainians in such systems, and Ukraine does not have enough air power to put a serious blow to it.

In addition, Russian combat helicopters have been geolocated in the area in recent days.

These drone operators used to make “nice” youtube videos.  Now they are registering alleged Russian war crimes

As a recent study by the US defense think tank RAND noted, Russian battlegroups are the heaviest in artillery. “The main effort of a major Russian offensive operation would likely have maneuver units supported by an equal or greater number of artillery units. They will use large quantities of cluster munitions and artillery mines “, predicts the report.

Some analysts believe that Russia has more than 50 battlegroups of battalions, each believed to number around 1,000 troops, in the arc from Popasna to Izium further north. It’s a huge concentration of power.

Despite weeks of shelling and rocket attacks, Ukrainian forces have refused to cede ground to the Russians in several towns in Lugansk and Donetsk. Only when they have nothing left to defend do they retreat tactically to avoid capture.

This is what happened in the city of Kremmina in April.

“At Kremmina we understood that if we held on to the earth the boys would die and there would be no harm to the enemy, so we regrouped and left,” Hayday said.

But for at least a handful of Ukrainian soldiers in Popasna, flight was no longer an option.

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