Putin troops being sent on off-road motorbikes in night attacks on Ukrainian forces, say UK defence chiefs

Putin troops being sent on off-road motorbikes in night attacks on Ukrainian forces, say UK defence chiefs

Vladimir Putin’s troops are increasingly being sent on off-road motorbikes and all-terrain vehicles in night attacks on Ukrainian forces, say UK defence chiefs.

They emphasised that this tactic, rather than using armoured vehicles, was increasing the risks of Russian soldiers being killed.

In its latest intelligence update, the Ministry of Defence in London said: “Since the start of 2024, Russia has highly likely increased its use of light vehicles, such as all-terrain vehicles and off-road motorbikes to transport personnel to the frontlines, and conduct attacks on Ukrainian positions, particularly at night.

“In November 2023, Russian President Vladimir Putin personally inspected newly acquired Chinese Desertcross 1000-3 all-terrain vehicles from Odes Industries. Russia has reportedly purchased over 2,100 of these vehicles.”

The briefing added: “It is likely that Russian forces have increasingly resorted to the use of lighter, faster vehicles to conduct reconnaissance of Ukrainian defensive positions, to allow for subsequent engagement using artillery, first-person view (FPV) or one-way attack OWA drones in an effort to consistently degrade Ukrainian forces.

“However, in sacrificing armour and firepower for increased mobility, light vehicles are far more vulnerable than their armoured counterparts to an array of weapon systems.

“Ukrainian FPV drones have already demonstrated their ability to effectively target such light vehicles.”

Britain, the US, Ukraine and its other allies are fighting an information war against Putin’s regime so their briefings need to be treated with caution, often focusing on Russian losses or weaknesses.

But they are still far more believable than the propaganda issued by the Kremlin.

Russia troops have been gradually seizing more territory in eastern Ukraine but at the same time suffering heavy losses, according to defence sources.

Putin’s army chiefs have in recent days launched a fresh offensive in north east Ukraine, in the Kharkiv area, where “fierce battles” are taking place, according to the country’s president Volodymyr Zelensky.

They have also adapted their tactics since the start of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 when long lines of military vehicles were easy targets and at times got stuck in mud.

His army was forced into a humiliating retreat from near Kyiv at the beginning of the conflict which is now largely bogged down in fighting in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine along a 620-mile frontline.

Both sides are increasingly using drones, including some which can strike at targets more than 900 miles away, as part of efforts to degrade each other’s war machine by damaging oil and other industrial sites.

Russia pressed its ground assault into the Kharkiv region on Monday, attacking new areas with small groups to try to widen the front and stretch Ukraine's forces, the regional governor said.

Moscow's troops entered Ukraine near its second city, Kharkiv, on Friday, and the advance could draw some of Kyiv's depleted forces away from the east, where Russia has been slowly advancing.

"The enemy is trying to deliberately stretch it (the front line), attacking in small groups, but in new directions, so to speak," Governor Oleh Syniehubov said in televised comments.

"The situation is difficult."

A day after the Russian offensive began, Ukraine appointed Brigadier General Mykhailo Drapatyi to take command of the Kharkiv front, the media outlet RBC-Ukraine reported.

Drapatyi previously led the liberation of the southern Kherson region in November 2022 before serving as deputy head of the General Staff.

Ukraine is on the defensive after a months-long slowdown in supplies of Western, especially American, military aid that has left Russia with an even greater advantage in manpower and munitions.

In the northeast, Russia's forces were pushing in several directions, including near the town of Vovchansk and also towards the village of Lyptsi, Mr Syniehubov said.

Kyiv's forces were managing to hold Moscow's troops back but there was a real threat that the fighting could spread to new settlements, he warned.

Russia said on Sunday it had captured nine villages in the Kharkiv region.

On Monday it said the troops had improved their positions and inflicted losses on territorial defence forces.

The Ukrainian military, in its daily readout, acknowledged some Russian "tactical successes" and said it was deploying reserves to stabilise the situation.

It said fighting was raging for control of Vovchansk, about three miles from the Russian border.

Mr Syniehubov said about 5,700 people had been evacuated from in and around Vovchansk and urged the remaining residents, said by local officials to number about 300, to leave.

The Ukrainian military said on Monday it had stopped Russian forces from moving further near the village of Lukyantsi to the north in the Kharkiv region where they had a "partial success".

The general staff said Russian troops continued offensive actions, and Ukraine would proceed with building up its forces in the area depending on the situation.