“12,000 Russian Troops Were Supposed To Defend Kaliningrad. Then They Went To Ukraine To Die.(opens in a new tab)forbes.com/sites”

“Three months of grinding combat sapped the corps’ strength. Reuters got its hands on some of the 11th Army Corps’ paperwork. A spreadsheet dated August 30, right before a major Ukrainian counteroffensive, indicated the corps was at 71% of its full strength. Some battalions, however, were down to just a tenth of their original manpower.

It got worse for the corps. In late August and early September, the Ukrainian armed forces launched twin counteroffensives east of Kharkiv and north of Kherson. The Kharkiv operation, involving a dozen eager Ukrainian brigades, exposed profound weaknesses in the Russian forces in the area, including the 11th Army Corps.

Tens of thousands of Russians fled, surrendered or died in place as Ukrainian troops liberated a thousand square miles of Kharkiv Oblast in a heady two weeks. The 11th Army Corps suffered more than most Russian formations in the region. In late September, the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., described the corps as “severely battered.”

That may have been an understatement. The Ukrainian general staff concluded the corps lost 200 vehicles and half of its troops in the counteroffensive.

It’s possible the 11th Army Corps survives. If so, it almost certainly will require many months to rest, re-equip and induct draftees in order to regain even a fraction of its former strength.

The deployment and subsequent destruction of the 11th Army Corps is a tragedy for the men who suffered and died under its command—and a terrible blow for the Russian war effort in Ukraine.

But the implications extend across Europe. The 11th Army Corps was supposed to defend Kaliningrad and threaten NATO’s eastern front. Now it can do neither.”

Comment: This should have been one of the Russian Army’s best units. Sad. pl

12,000 Russian Troops Were Supposed To Defend Kaliningrad. Then They Went To Ukraine To Die. (forbes.com)

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14 Responses to “12,000 Russian Troops Were Supposed To Defend Kaliningrad. Then They Went To Ukraine To Die.(opens in a new tab)forbes.com/sites”

  1. Peter Hug says:

    Consider the possibility that it actually WAS one of the Russian Army’s best units.

  2. borko says:

    that’s Russian (Soviet) way of doing things. They’ll feed one army into the grinder so that the next one is better trained and equipped.
    This used to work for them in the past, however today in times of social media this might not work any more. Especially against Ukraine where many have friends and relatives.

    This is not Wilhelm vs Ivan, but Vladimir vs Volodymyr, Andrey vs Andrii etc.
    Sad and tragic.

    • fredw says:

      I doubt that social media is what creates the difference. The traditional Russian style (not just Soviet) was based on having huge numbers of people to bring into the fight. They don’t have that any more. Part of that is the result of a sustained low birth rate. There just aren’t as many available men of military age as there used to be. Part is due to the greatly increased professionalism (and expense) of usable soldiers and equipment. They simply can’t afford large numbers of world-class military assets. (We have problems with that, too, but we are richer.)

      You might think that “Andrey vs Andrii” might make a difference. Civil wars, however, are renowned for being exceptionally vicious. I am reminded of one of James McPherson’s books citing a union officer assigned to a unit comprised of Kentucky and Tennessee soldiers. He had never seen such hatred of the rebels in any other troops.

      • borko says:

        Apparently their mobilization potential is something like 22-25 million soldiers. With hundreds of billions of dollars laying around they should be able to afford to properly train and equip a lot of men. If it weren’t for corruption and the traditional Russian half assed way of doing things.

        You make a good point about civil wars, the US civil war remains America’s bloodiest conflict.
        I’m not sure how to explain that phenomenon. Tribalism ?Governments usually try to dehumanize the opponent, so we get Ukro Nazis, Russian Orcs etc. One would hope however, that with the availability of social media, people would not be so easily fooled into getting into the frenzy because now they can see the story and suffering of the other side.

  3. Fourth and Long says:

    I find it hard to believe they would leave Kaliningrad undefended like this. Makes very little logistical sense either, zero in fact.

    • TTG says:


      Taking the 11th AC out of Kaliningrad still leaves naval infantry and coastal defense units in place for defense. The place is hardly undefended.

  4. Marc says:

    I don’t think you are serious about this.

  5. Worth Pointing Out says:

    Well, David Axe shows once again that he has a very vivid imagination.

    Kaliningrad is now undefended. What forces that were there to act as the “anvil” for a Russian invasion of the Baltic states (really, David? Not to, you know, defend Kaliningrad *from* NATO?) are now gone. Sent to a far-off land and destroyed.

    The idea that the Russians have left Kaliningrad without troops is… fanciful.
    It is also something that Axe assumes must be true because, well, because.

    The article is replete with such assumptions and leaps of faith.

    “After just a month of bitter fighting, the Russians retreated from Kyiv”
    They withdrew from Kyiv, they didn’t “retreat” in the face of a Ukrainian offensive.

    “Estimates vary, but it’s possible they suffered 50,000 killed and wounded by the time the front lines stabilized in May.”
    I bet those estimates “varied”, and I’ll wager you chose the most outlandish such guess in order to come up with “50,000 killed”.

    The article is nonsense.

  6. blue peacock says:

    “They withdrew from Kyiv, they didn’t “retreat”..”


  7. Bill Roche says:

    “Goodness gracious Great Balls a’fire!!!” must be the call sign all over Kalingrad. Completely undefended, it shudders while the 3rd Panzer Corps licks its chops, anticipating its chance to destroy the region. I have read in the Frankfurter Allemeign that the Germans intend to send all 15 of their tanks. Don’t doubt me fellow correspondents. This whole Ukrainy thing was just a ruse for Germany to take back Kalingrad. A slight of hand, a diversion, a feint conceived at NATO headquarters, Ukraine was the honey trap used to lure Putin into committing the vaunted 11th Corp to punish Ukrainia for the sin of declaring independence. The “natoese” knew Putin would take the bait, Ukraine would consent to the deaths of thousands of its own, and NATO would risk nuclear war to give Germany repossession of … “A Bit of Baltica”. Sounds like an old Fred Astair and Ginger Rodgers ’40’s dance tune. Wie sagt man … Kalingrad or bust! But the butchery of thousands is no laughing matter. It stops when Putin goes home. Home Vlady! Vlady; … go home!

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