No SATNAV and datalink: Russia’s special forces using 1940s paper map to navigate in Ukraine

Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine confirmed that, despite the propaganda, Russian troops were poorly trained and equipped. 

Ill-equipped Russian soldiers have relied on decades-old paper maps, often getting lost on the battlefield and ambushed by Ukrainian troops.

A noticeable example is the battle between the elite Russian Airborne Troops, or VDV, and the Ukrainian BMP-2 fighting vehicles near Girske, Luhansk Region, in May 2022. The Dead District blog brought to attention drone footage showing a Russian BMD-4M airborne infantry fighting vehicle of the 31st Air Assault Brigade of the Russian VDV lost its way and was ambushed by two BMP-2s of the Ukrainian 24th Brigade.

Russia’s special stopped on the street to look at a paper map.

The released footage shows how the soldiers of the elite Russian unit got lost and pulled out an old paper map and then came under fire from Ukrainian infantry fighting vehicles. The BMD-4 was destroyed and the crew was later killed by bombs dropped from a drone.

Earlier, the Ukrainian military found a Russian map of Chernihiv region with a coordinate system dating back to World War II.

The map, which the Russian troops left behind when they left Trostyanets (Chernihiv region), has a coordinate system developed in 1942. The map of the territory itself dates back to 1990.

Russian special forces left the 1940s paper map.

The Security Service of Ukraine, or SBU, investigators also found that some of the Russian commanders who invaded Ukrainian territory in February were guided by topographic maps of Ukraine dating back to 1969. This is evidenced by the documents of the invaders, which the SBU seized at the site of the districts of the Kharkiv region temporarily occupied by Russians.

In particular, the documents of the Russian motorized rifle battalion of the 138th Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade have not been updated for at least 53 years.

Russian special forces left the 1940s paper map.

The maps of the occupiers completely lack the Saltovsky residential area of Kharkiv, which has been built up since the early 70s of the last century. The Travianske and Muromske reservoirs, built in the seventies, are also missing. And the state border between Ukraine and Russia is drawn with a ballpoint pen, as it did not exist on the maps at all.

The Kremlin generals sent soldiers to the war with inadequate equipment, which led to unnecessarily significant losses in personnel, arms, and equipment.

Russian elite troops have suffered from corruption, “moral decay” and total propaganda.

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