In some of the most intense footage we have seen since Russia began its all-out invasion of Ukraine 16 months ago, a team from the Ukrainian 73rd Naval Special Operations Center (NSOC) is seen wiping out Russian troops in a trench somewhere on the southern front of the ongoing counteroffensive.
The video shows combat strikingly reminiscent of the brutal close-quarters fighting that took place in the trenches of Europe during WWI. The video looks more like a scene from 1917 then from a modern battlefield. In this 1-minute-57-second video segment, the Ukrainian special operators - roughly equivalent to U.S. Navy SEALs - enter the trench and one by one kill Russian troops as they snake through the labyrinth of tight, blind corners.
Editor's note: the video in this below contains extremely graphic scenes of combat. Viewer discretion is highly advised:
The video, taken by one of the operators wearing a helmet-mounted camera, begins with the 73rd NSOC team approaching the deeply dug trench complex and opening fire while turning left at the entrance. As the team continues a short distance down the trench, a Russian soldier appears from around the corner and is immediately shot dead. He slumps to the ground face down and is shot a few more times to ensure he is no longer a threat.
About 69 seconds into the video, two more Russian soldiers approach the Ukrainians from another section of the trench and are also quickly gunned down. Some 10 seconds later, a Ukrainian operator is seen tossing a grenade into the trench network. About 10 seconds after that, another grenade is tossed.
At about 87 seconds into the video, there is a right orange-yellow flash, followed by the sounds of shouting and more gunfire, though what happens next is unclear.
In a post on its Telegram channel Monday where the video first appeared, the Ukrainian Special Operations Forces (SSO) claimed the team entered the trench from the rear, surprised its occupants, and killed 10 Russians.
"In the south, during the mission, the operators of the special purpose marine center were able to enter the rear of the enemy," the SSO said on its Telegram channel. "A combat group of SSO soldiers caught the enemy by surprise. Recovering from the surprise, some enemy soldiers tried to resist. But, as you can see from the video shot by one of our soldiers - in vain."
The graphic video underlines the chaotic and brutal nature of warfare — the claustrophobic horror of fighting in trenches and the sudden immediacy of death. Though technology has changed greatly since the "Great War" - allowing us rapid access to such scenes, for one - the human element of combat and the horrors that go along with it remains the same.
Yuriy Butusov, editor of the Ukrainian CENSOR.net news outlet who has seen plenty of combat footage, was particularly moved by what he saw in this video.
“One of the most stunning close-quarters battles captured on video in the history of modern wars,” he said.
If anything else, the now viral trench fighting video is another stark reminder that war is hell on earth.
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