Ukrainian troops are better at fighting at night, and Russian soldiers struggle

The Ukrainian Armed Forces have a big advantage over their Russian opponents on the battlefield at night according to some sources. But the reason soldiers from Ukraine are better at fighting in the dark may not be what you think.

The Institute for the Study of War reported in a recent campaign update on the war that some Russian milbloggers were claiming Ukraine had the edge over Russian troops at night because they possessed superior night vision optics on Western-supplied weapons.

“Zaporizhia. Why does the war go on at night?” Wrote the popular Russian milblogger Alexander Sladkov on his Telegram channel in an English translation from Google.

“Yes, everything is clear as day! Imported equipment has excellent night optics. And they can go, and conduct surveillance, and aim, and control the accuracy of the fire. Therefore, the enemy chooses the night,” Sladkov continued.

Sladkov’s analysis is probably correct and the Institute for the Study of War pointed out that Vladimir Rogov, the Russian occupation official in Zaporizhia Oblast also claimed that Western tech allowed Ukrainian forces to work more effectively during the night.

“For the third day, the Nazis carry out active operations of an offensive nature at night,” Rogov wrote on his Telegram channel in an English translation that was also provided by Google “There are several reasons for this, in my opinion.”

Rogov explained that the first reason for Ukraine’s night attacks was because it reduced the efficiency of Russian aviation and the second was because it reduced Ukrainian losses since it allowed Kyiv’s kamikaze drones to hit Russian forces more accurately.

Finally, Rogov explained that attacking at night allowed Ukrainian forces to maximize the benefits they got from Western-supplied equipment and instruments. While this is an interesting claim, is there any truth to the idea that Ukraine’s night vision is superior?

The Telegraph’s Roland Oliphant and Joe Barnes noted the German-made Leopard 2 tanks and American-built Bradley Fighting Vehicles, weapons that are spearheading Ukraine’s current offensive, are “known for their cutting-edge night sights.”

Oliphant and Barnes also said that Ukrainian and Russian tanks and armored vehicles both have night vision capabilities but also pointed out that some BMP infantry fighting vehicles have not been modernized and lack any kind of night vision capabilities.

Russian forces are likely to be a mix of both night-vision-equipped and non-night-vision vehicles, which may be why Ukraine’s generals have been testing Moscow’s defenses once the sun goes down. But the Ukrainian forces also have another big advantage.

The United States began supplying the Ukrainian Armed Forces with advanced AN/ PVS-14 night-vision monoculars back in 2018 according to the country’s General Staff in a deal worth roughly $5.8 million in free military aid the Kyiv Post reported.

Bradley IFV is fitted with EOTS to aid in day/night mission.

“AN/PVS-14 night-vision monoculars have been used by the U.S. Armed Forces and a number of their NATO allies since 2000,” Kyiv Post’s Illia Ponomarenko wrote when the deal was revealed, adding the systems could be mounted to helmets and assault rifles.

Roland Oliphant and Joe Barnes also wrote that NATO countries like Norway and the United States have been providing Ukraine with night vision devices since the invasion began in February 2022, though they said the systems remained scarce on the battlefield. 

However, regardless of how many night-vision systems are being employed in the fight currently unfolding on the frontlines of Zaporizhia Oblast, it’s probably safe to assert that whatever is being used in the offensive is making a difference for troops on the ground. 

As of June 13th, Ukraine Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said the country’s armed forces had liberated seven settlements over the course of a week and recaptured 90 square kilometers—or 55 miles—according to a report from The Kyiv Independent. 

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