Oleg Kozhemyako, the governor of Primorsky Krai in the Russian Far East, has published videos on his Telegram channel, ostensibly showing marines from the 155th Brigade and fighters of the Tigr Battalion outside Pavlivka. The servicemen deny heavy losses and say they are “alright” and that the Russian forces are faring well.
“There have been reports that the 155th Brigade, our detachment, no longer exists. We want to say we’re holding the line. The brigade is fighting. There have been losses, unfortunately. Fighting is heavy in Pavlivka. It's tough. We’ve lost a few men, wounded and killed. But we keep the pressure on our adversary,” insists a man in one of the videos.
In another video, a man also asserts that fighting is heavy and they have sustained losses but keep “pressing on”. “We're advancing bit by bit, slower than we wanted, but we’re moving forward,” he says.
According to what they say, the marines “left Pavlivka on rotation for a while”, to wash clothes and resupply, and will return to the combat zone shortly.
The two videos do not show their faces, and their voices have also been modified.
Yesterday, on November 7, Kozhemyako admitted losses in the 155th Separate Marine Guards Brigade of the Pacific Navy sustained during the assault on Vuhledar but assured that earlier reports about 300 marines killed, wounded, or missing in action were a “great exaggeration”.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky commented on the situation with the Russian marines. In his evening address on November 7, he said in Russian that Governor Kozhemyako had been “instructed by Moscow to lie” about allegedly small losses:
“Over 9,000 kilometers separate Vladivostok from Pavlivka in the Donetsk Region. But he is positive that the losses are ‘not that heavy’. The governor must have a better view from over there how many servicemen from his region are being sent to certain death. It's either that or he has been ordered to lie. By Moscow. Here is how an order to lie about Russia’s losses has traveled thousands of kilometers. Even the bodies of most of these killed men will not make it back to Vladivostok. But I’m sure that Governor Kozhemyako will be there to explain why some of those included in the ‘not-so-heavy’ losses did not make it back.”
The dire situation of the 155th Separate Marine Guards Brigade of Russia's Pacific Navy was reported by VGTRK war correspondent Alexander Sladkov on the evening of November 6. According to Sladkov, the marines, who were outside Pavlivka near Vuhledar, submitted a letter to Kozhemyako, complaining about their commanders and requesting an inspection to halt the poorly planned and unprepared offensive on AFU positions. At first, Kozhemyako responded that the military prosecutor's office will handle the letter because it may have been “a misinformation attack launched by Ukrainian secret services”.
Russia’s Ministry of Defense later stated that the losses of the 155th Marine Brigade “are within 1% of the combat personnel thanks to competent commanders”.
Once the information about the marines began to circulate in the media, Evgeny Fedorov, deputy and founder of the National Liberation Movement, suggested prosecuting Alexander Sladkov for releasing information about the marines’ letter to Kozhemyako. In his Telegram channel, Fedorov set up a vote on how to handle “US spies who have launched an attack on the Russian Army”, with one of the options being a criminal case against Sladkov. The latter responded as follows: “I voted for 'Execute by firing squad'.”