Ukraine-Russia war latest: Russia sends elite paratroopers to front line amid heavy losses

Depleted units of elite Russian paratroopers have been sent to Donbas after retreating from Kherson city, writes James Kilner.

British military intelligence said that the VDV airborne units, among the Kremlin’s best soldiers, were being thrown back into battle despite being severely weakened after nine months of war.

“Some VDV units have likely been reinforced with mobilised reservists,” the ministry of defence said. “Although these poorly trained personnel will dilute VDV’s supposedly elite capability, Russia will likely still allocate these units to sectors deemed especially important.”

Russia’s VDV forces were part of the Russian force that had been defending Kherson in the south of Ukraine. Russian forces withdrew from Kherson city this month because it had become too difficult to resupply.

Russia’s elite paratroopers come with a fearsome reputation for toughness and unflinching violence. The Kremlin uses them as shock troops and they attacked key strategic locations around Kyiv during the initial hours of the Russian invasion in February.

Since retreating from Kherson city in southern Ukraine, Russian forces have deployed to the Donbas region and Western analysts have warned of intensified fighting.

Follow the latest updates below.