Footage apparently shot by one of Ukraine’s Turkish-built Bayraktar TB2 drones shows the routing of an ambushed Russian convoy as it neared Kyiv this week, forcing the diminished column to beat a hasty retreat – and offering an example of the determined and often successful counterattacks defenders have inflicted on invading troops during the three-week conflict.
The video was tweeted by the international group of researchers Bellingcat on Thursday, with text describing it as showing “a Russian military column coming under attack and retreating… in Brovary, northeast of Kyiv.” Republication by various media outlets since has added information – some identifying the village by another name – but all tend to concur on the main elements and veracity of the footage. Shot straight on from a drone, it captures a convoy of over 20 Russian tanks and armored personnel carriers being ambushed by Ukraine militia fighters, who destroyed at least two vehicles and reportedly killed the commanding officer before the column sped off back where it had come from.
It’s unclear whether the drone fired any of the shots in what’s been dubbed online as the “Battle of Brovary,” but the effective Ukraine attack – and ignoble retreat of the battered Russian convoy – is emblematic of the unexpected resistance that has slowed or halted the advance of invading troops.
Accompanying the Ukrainian drone video is presumably a radio intercept of a Russian soldier in Brovary reporting to someone wanting updates on the situation. A translation of the exchange posted as a reply to the Bellingcat footage appears to confirm the death of the commanding officer.
The ambush was reportedly the work of Ukraine Azov militia, which – while having earned plaudits for its highly effective action against Russian forces – traces its origins to extreme-right nationalists who fought Moscow-backed separatist regions in eastern Ukraine. While particularly potent, however, that unit is just one of many formed by Ukrainian volunteers across the country to defend their cities from invading forces.
That far stronger Ukrainian resistance than Russian President Vladimir Putin banked on has also gotten significant aerial support from Turkish Bayraktar TB2 military drones, and medium-sized domestic Punisher UAVs. Both have both claimed serious losses to enemy vehicles, munitions, and personnel.
Also spotted in the Ukraine drone video of the ambush is what in some postings say may have been a Russian TOS-1A Heavy Flamethrower – a tank-mounted thermobaric warhead launcher. The weapon essentially turns the air and everything around its targets into flames, and was used with devastating and horrific effect during Russia’s 2000 invasion of Chechnya, which some observers fear may become Putin’s model for continued combat in Ukraine.