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Fast and furious: Russia using bikes to stir chaos in Ukraine

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They first appeared as a cloud of dust on the horizon. A few seconds later, the motorcycles carrying Russian soldiers sped into view, zigzagging across a field, kicking up dust, attempting a noisy, dangerous run at a Ukrainian trench. “They moved fast, they spread out and they swerved,” said Lt. Mykhailo Hubitsky, describing the Russian motorcycle assault he witnessed.
It’s a type of attack that has been proliferating along the frontline this spring, adding a wild new element to the already violent, chaotic fighting.
Russian soldiers riding motorcycles, dirt bikes, quadricycles and dune buggies now account for about half of all attacks in some areas of the front, soldiers and commanders say, as Moscow’s forces attempt to use speed to cross exposed open spaces where its lumbering armoured vehicles are easy targets. These nonconventional vehicles have been turning up with such frequency that some Ukrainian trenches now overlook junk yards of abandoned, blown up off-road vehicles, videos from reconnaissance drones show.
The new tactic is the latest Russian adaptation for a heavily mined, continually surveilled battlefield, as Moscow’s forces work to achieve small tactical gains, often of just a few hundred yards. The Russians’ farthest advance in the region is 15 miles from its starting point. “We are fighting a war over every metre,” said Captain Yaroslav, an artillery commander with 80th air assault brigade.
With reconnaissance drones ubiquitous in the skies over the Donbas, the armoured vehicles of both armies are easy targets. The faster-moving motorcycles and buggies are harder to hit with artillery and they can swerve to avoid mines that armoured vehicle operators might not see. The use of cheap, disposable dirt bikes and buggies also helps conserve Russian armoured vehicles.
The drawback is that they provide no protection for Russian soldiers, who are exposed to a hail of machine gun fire as they approach the trenches. If they make it across a field, the riders cast aside their bikes, enter the Ukrainian trench and engage in close combat on foot. “How they find people willing to do this, I don’t know,” said Volodymyr, a Ukrainian sergeant. “Sometimes, none of them will make it, sometimes all of them.” That hasn’t deterred Russian commanders from continuing to employ the tactic. “All the tree lines,” said Sapsan, a sergeant in the 47th Brigade, “are now full of these buggies and motorcycles.”





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