Wednesday, February 1, 2023

The Taliban Were Better Fighters Than The Russians, Putin’s Troops Are So Incompetent It’s Embarrassing – Ex British Army Sniper On Frontline In Ukraine War Reveals

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Former British Army sniper Shane Matthew had just settled down for a cup of tea when a Russian 120mm shell exploded 100 metres away from him.

Five days earlier, Shane had been back home safe in Chichester, West Sussex. Now he was dodging incoming artillery bombardments on the Ukrainian frontline.

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The 34-year-old said: “I was having a cup of tea and they barraged the entire area we were in. I’m pretty seasoned to artillery fire but getting shelled while having a cup of tea really pissed me off.”

A former Lance Corporal in the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment, Shane is one of the British volunteers who has answered Ukraine’s call for foreign fighters to help defend their country from the Russian invasion.

As a veteran of two tours of Afghanistan, as well as six years in Iraq as a combat medic, the former squaddie has been using his military expertise to train one of Ukraine’s territorial defence battalions in first aid and tactical skills on the frontline around Irpin as they resist Vladimir Putin’s forces.

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Relentless Russian shelling pounds the area “24 hours a day, seven days a week”, he said.

Mr Matthew said: “They are using 122mm fixed artillery placements. So it’s a massive firepower. But it is indiscriminate. They are shelling everywhere.

“I have seen massive amounts of civilian casualties. I was down on the bridge when the Fox News team got killed the other morning as well, and the reporter from NYT [the New York Times].

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“They were targeting a bridgehead on the outskirts of Irpin where it is just ambulances and press. There was no military there. They are shelling anyone. It is insane.”

But despite the repeated shelling of civillians and Russia having one of the most powerful armies in the world, he said he is shocked at how “tactically incompetent” the invading force is.

Mr Matthew said: “Their skills, the way they operate, the way they move, the way they run out of supplies left right and centre. The fact they are leaving convoys in the open for the Ukrainians to obliterate.

“I have never seen something so embarrassing. The Taliban were better fighters than the Russians. They are surrendering in their droves. It’s embarrassing.

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“For the second largest army in the world it is a joke. I have seen prisoners surrendering, I have seen Russian soldiers faking epilepsy attacks to get in the back of civilian ambulances in the hopes of getting out.”

He has, however, been “massively impressed” by the stout resistance of the Ukrainians, saying he has “never seen anything like it”.

“The Battle for Kyiv is not coming up. They wouldn’t make it to the city. The defences here and the tactics the Ukrainians are using are far superior to the Russians. They wouldn’t get through,” he added.

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“What they are doing is effectively an insurgency of civilians fighting.”

He made the decision to travel to Ukraine “about two days” after the Russian invasion, crowdfunding for medical supplies in England before flying to Warsaw with three and a half holdalls of medical gear on March 7, getting a taxi to the Ukrainian border, then travelling on to Kyiv.russia

Leaving civvy street and his job running an educational farm for children with learning difficulties, he headed back to war once more.

He said: “I saw what the Russians were doing to a civilian population and wasn’t prepared to stand for it and just watch with the skillsets I’ve got.

“My Mum was absolutely fuming. But they know me well enough after 34 years that anything they said wouldn’t stop me. It’s not the first time they have said goodbye and sent me to a warzone.

“I went over with a Ukrainian friend of mine and we literally rolled out to one of the defence battalions to join them. I was in a training capacity with first aid, but we have been doing it on the frontlines ever since we got here.”

So far, he says he has trained 500 Ukrainian volunteer civilian troops in four days, with that number expected to rise to 800.

In a series of videos posted on Tiktok, he has documented the horrors of war, with thousands of civilians seen fleeing and incoming artillery strikes.

He has witnessed the harrowing aftermath of Russian strikes on a church, a school and a bridge that was shelled as civilians were being evacuated. The father of a Ukrainian man he spoke to was killed. Two days later, the man’s son had died in a Russian artillery strike.

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russia and ukraineAlthough armed with a Savage Arms sniper rifle and pistol, he stresses that his role is “entirely defensive” citing the British government’s “yo-yo-ing” on potential prosecutions for those who do.

The foreign fighters currently flocking to Ukraine have drawn inevitable comparisons with the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War.

Some of the Brigadistas in the 1930s were – like Mr Matthew – ex-soldiers with experience of fighting in World War One, but others had no military training. Some now travelling to Ukraine are similarly ill-prepared for the harsh realities of Europe’s largest conflict since World War Two.

Mr Matthew said: “We passed 50 on the Polish border that had no military experience. They had run away from the legions because they thought it was going to be like Call of Duty.

“They were all British, all aged 18, 20, who all thought they were going to come over here pick up a sniper rifle and quickscope people.

“It was embarrassing. They were here for five days, deserted and went across the border with their tails between their legs because this is war.”

He has a stark warning for any thrill-seekers thinking of coming Ukraine: “Unless you have military or medical experience, stay at home because you are just going to get people killed.”

Photo Credit: Getty 

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