Ukraine: The New World War I? A new video posted online on Wednesday served as a reminder of why the fighting on the outskirts of the urban center of Bakhmut evoked numerous comparisons to the trench warfare on the Western Front during the First World War more than a century ago.
In the 13-second-long clip, a squad of Ukrainian soldiers could be seen in a freshly dug trench, which was commonplace in the final months of the “Great War.”
The most significant difference was that these soldiers were kitted out with modern camouflage uniforms, body armor, and ballistic helmets. But the style of the trenches – and more importantly the trench warfare – remains all too similar to what one would have encountered near Bella Wood and Douamont in 1918.
“Getting ready to bonk another Russian meat wave in Bakhmut,” read the caption from @rammstein_fella, a social media account that regularly shares such clips from the frontlines.
The sentiment appeared to be spot on, as the Kremlin has been increasingly employing “human wave” style tactics to overwhelm the defenders. As a result, thousands of Russian soldiers have been killed in just the past week – and much like the trench warfare of World War I, the attackers have gained little to no ground in such attacks. Even when trenches are captured, the attackers cannot secure their gains and instead are driven back in a counterattack.
Or worse, the Russians are forced to give up the newly taken trenches due to a lack of follow-up support. It is no wonder there are reports that the morale among Moscow’s forces can be best described as bleak. The Ukrainian forces are also increasingly feeling the pressure of the constant fighting, but as noted in this video there was still a moment of levity among the troops.
One factor could be that these Ukrainian soldiers have a reasonably defendable position and are armed with a lot of firepower to counter even a large wave of Russian forces. In addition to modern AK-74 assault rifles, numerous man-portable anti-tank rocket launchers, including Swedish-made AT4s and Soviet-era RPG-22s could be seen in the trenches.
Though it hasn’t gotten the same level of attention as the AT4, British NLAW, and American FGM-148 Javelin, Kyiv has employed vast numbers of the Soviet-era RPG-22 in the fighting in Ukraine. Unlike the RPG-2 or RPG-7, the RPG-22 “Netto” is a single-shot disposable anti-tank rocket launcher that entered service in 1985.
It is an upgraded version of the RPG-18 but fires a larger 72.5mm fin-stabilized projectile. It is similar in design to the American LAW rocket launcher – and consists of a fiberglass main tube and a telescoping forward extension. It can be prepared to fire in just 10 seconds but is still able to penetrate up to 40mm of rolled homogenous armor or even one meter of reinforced concrete. The maximum sighting range is approximately 250 meters, but the accuracy of the weapon is somewhat limited.
The RPG-22 first saw use in combat in the Soviet-Afghan War and is now being employed by both sides in the war in Ukraine.
Getting ready to bonk another russian meat wave in Bakhmut. pic.twitter.com/JfLmBfsbAv
— Ramms✙ein Fella???????? (@rammstein_fella) March 29, 2023
However, it is the will and determination of the soldiers defending that shallow trench that is most noteworthy. They appeared more than ready to face another wave of Russian soldiers and fight for their freedom – a fact that seems to be lost on the Kremlin leadership. How can it ever achieve victory when such brave Ukrainian warriors man the trenches?
Author Experience and Expertise:
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.