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Russian motorcycle soldiers have introduced a new element of chaos to the fighting in eastern Ukraine, often using motorcycles, dirt bikes, quad bikes and dune buggies to quickly traverse open and exposed spaces.

Lieutenant Mykhailo Hubitsky described these assaults: «They moved quickly, scattered and swerved.» These unconventional vehicles are now so common that Ukrainian trenches often overlook scrapyards of abandoned and exploded off-road vehicles.

Moscow’s forces aim to make small tactical gains, often just a few hundred meters. Despite the high risk, these motorcycle assaults help Russian forces traverse minefields while being observed by drones and under artillery fire. The riders abandon their bikes when they reach Ukrainian trenches and engage in close combat on foot.

Captain Yaroslav of the 80th Air Assault Brigade acknowledges the intensity of the fighting: «We are fighting a war on every meter.» Russia remains on the offensive, close to supply lines and strategically important cities in the Donbass region.

Since capturing Bakhmut in May 2023, Russian advances have been slow but steady. They now threaten key supply routes such as the Pokrovsk-Kostyantynivka highway. This adds urgency to the fighting, as control of this route would slow the flow of essential goods to Ukrainian forces.

The Russian advance also endangers Toretsk and New York. Authorities have hastily evacuated civilians during heavy shelling. Inside these cities, Russian artillery shelling has left streets deserted and homes destroyed.

Evacuations are rapid, with residents given minutes to leave their homes. Alina Olyak, a 69-year-old retired nurse, described conditions as «Boom, boom, boom.» The van that evacuated her was destroyed the next day by a Russian rocket.

As the Russian army advanced, various tactics were experimented with. Motorcycle assaults, although highly dangerous for the soldiers, solved the challenge of crossing open fields under surveillance and artillery fire. These fast vehicles were harder to hit than armored vehicles, although they offered no protection against machine gun fire.

“They jump out and start shooting,” said Sapsan, a sergeant with the 47th Mechanized Brigade. The new tactic has caused significant casualties but has not replaced Russia’s heavy reliance on artillery.

In short, Russia’s use of motorcycles and other fast vehicles adds a dangerous and unpredictable element to the conflict, aiming for small but critical territorial gains in a highly contested and mined battlefield.

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