An elite parachute regiment of Russia, which was termed to be the 'best of the best', has faced immense loss as most of their members have been slaughtered in the Ukraine war. Russia's 331st Guards Parachute Regiment, which is believed to be fearsome and has been appreciated for its roles in the 2014 conflict, lost nearly 39 of its elite members in the war.
Regiment's Commander Was Killed in March
For the regiment, the numbers are the highest casualties so far as it never lost these many members in any previous conflict.
The regiment was suffering losses that had emerged earlier when their commander Col Sergei Sukharev was killed by Ukrainian troops on March 13.
The men were part of a column that advanced into Ukraine from Belarus, led by Russia's airborne forces, known by the acronym VDV. Their presence underlined the priority of their objective - advancing on the capital, Kyiv, according to BBC.
Their approach was to control be disastrous in Kyiv but they faced massive losses on the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital.
That advance swiftly got drawn into a destructive stalemate in districts on the outskirts of Kyiv which soon became synonymous with the viciousness of the war: Bucha, Irpin, and Hostomel.
Visuals that emerged on the internet had shown the troops had used the armored vehicle in Bucha, Irapin and other Kyiv suburbs with a "V" sign painted on them.
Now streets are full of such devastating Russian vehicles that have V signs on them.
Members in the unit had described themselves as the pick of Russia's army. In one of the previous videos posted on the internet months before the war began, a general is telling soldiers that they are the "best of the best".
Previously, the elite unit had served in Chechnya, Balkans and during Russia's intervention of the Donbas region in 2014.
Russia Not Admitting Deaths
The wife of Warrant Officer Sergei Lobachyov, a member of the elite unit who lost his life in the war, wrote on social media: "Seryozha, my most reliable, loving and caring husband. Now you are in heaven and you will protect us from there! You will always live in our hearts and you will forever be a real hero to me!"
Russia has not been accepting immense troops' loss to itself in the Ukraine war. However, it has admitted the death of the commander and the deputy head of the elite unit but Moscow hid the deaths of many members.
A member of the elite unit Sergeant Sergei Duganov had also died in the war. "Nobody knows anything. The 331st regiment is disappearing. Almost every day, photos of our Kostroma boys get published. It sends shivers down my spine. What's happening? When will this end? When will people stop dying," wrote a Russian woman on social media.
Russia had earlier replaced national service soldiers with contraktniki, professionals under contract, but the massive losses in the war have suggested that the generals should have considered this as key while building their strategies.
The deaths of so many members of the 331st will come as a blow to the Russian military, in part symbolically due to their reputation.