Russian troops experienced the impacts of their own devastating systems firsthand as a humiliating mistake as they accidentally incinerated their own troops with a flamethrower. Ukrainian sources claimed that Russian troops had fired a Zantsepek heavy flamethrower system at a position occupied by their own men. It is so far unclear as to how many casualties took place as a result of this “friendly fire” as Russia has noted acknowledged this incident just yet.
In a Facebook post, Ukraine’s 97th Infantry Battalion posted an ironic “thank you” message to Russian forces over a devastating strike.
The message said: “The leadership of the 97th Infantry Battalion expresses its satisfaction with the actions of the Russian occupiers, who today, using the heavy Zantsepek flamethrower system in the Zaporizhzhya direction, used it against their positions and actually burned the occupiers from Ukrainian soil.
“Such actions are positively perceived and supported in every way by the Ukrainian military.”
Since the start of the invasion, Russian forces have used TOS-1 rockets as well as thermobaric flamethrowers in Ukraine.
The TOS-1 Buratino, a 30-barrel launcher mounted on a T-72 tank chassis, can deliver thermobaric warheads which lay a rolling field of fire that can eliminate large enemy troop formations in a matter of seconds.
In March, Eliot Higgins, from the investigative journalism group Bellingcat, tweeted that the TOS-1A ‘Flamethrower’ thermobaric rockets were fired near Mariupol, which has endured constant bombardment from Russian forces.
Later on in the conflict, it was reported that Ukrainian forces had captured at least one Buratino and had used it against the Russians.
The TOS-1 is a lethal weapon that had been developed by the Soviet Union, primarily for use in Afghanistan.
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The thermobaric warheads are capable of producing a destructive explosion with a blast radius much bigger than conventional weaponry.
Upon impact, missiles disperse an incendiary aerosol into the air which then catches fire immediately, creating a massive fireball that absorbs oxygen from the atmosphere.
However, the invasion of Ukraine, and the intense resistance put up by Ukrainian forces, have made experts question the competency of Putin’s armed forces.
Prior to the invasion, experts, including those in the US, believed that Russian forces could steamroll Ukraine and capture Kyiv in days.
However, over two months, Ukrainian forces have held on thanks to Western military aid, and even pushed Russian forces back in some regions.
There have been claims that demoralised Russian troops have been vandalising their own vehicles so they cannot be sent into battle.
The Zaporizhzhia Military Administration posted on Telegram: “According to local residents, Russian troops have shelled 20 of their own vehicles in Polohy in order to avoid going to the front line; they blamed the shelling on [Ukrainian] resistance fighters in the temporarily occupied territory of Zaporizhzhia.”