‘Elite’ Russian Soldiers Caught Still Using Paper Maps From the ‘90s

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man hands checking topographic mountain map, examining route to explore nature
'Elite' Russian Soldiers Still Using Paper MapsEF Volart - Getty Images

Russia has long boasted of its advanced military, but its soldiers in Ukraine have been spotted navigating with paper maps instead of modern electronic navigational equipment.

The incident happened when elite Russian Airborne Troops were fighting near Girske, Luhansk Region, in May 2022. BMP-2s of the Ukrainian 24th Brigade ambushed the Russians. Drone footage analyzed by the Dead District shows how the unit got lost and pulled out an old paper map.

The ambush from last year doesn’t seem to be the only time Russian soldiers were forced to go without GPS or its Russian equivalent, GLONASS. In another instance, Ukrainians found a Russian map of the Chernihiv region with a coordinate system that was developed in 1942. The paper map was dated to 1990.

Old Equipment in a Modern Conflict

The map situation is an example of how a lack of modern military equipment has hampered the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russian troops have complained that they are being sent to the front lines with little training, inadequate food, and rusty weapons.

Ukraine is also running out of ammunition, and its leaders have begged for advanced Western weapons to beat back the larger Russian forces. In particular, Ukraine is asking for modern fighter jets and infantry fighting vehicles.

Using Guns from World War I

The U.K. Ministry of Defense said that Russia’s military is forced to use T-62 main battle tanks due to heavy losses of armor. Even units of Russia’s most renowned tank forces, the 1st Guards Tank Army, have been outfitted with the T-62, which first entered Soviet service in 1961. The T-62 was designed to be a more robust and modern tank than the T-55, with a more advanced main gun, improved armor, and a higher speed. It was armed with a 115mm smoothbore cannon, capable of firing various ammunition types, including armor-piercing and high-explosive rounds.

The Ukrainian side is also turning to old equipment as the war grinds on. Ukrainian forces are using the Pulemyot Maxima 1910 machine gun (or PM M1910), which was fielded by the Imperial Russian Army during World War I. The Pulemyot Maxima continued to be used by various military forces around the world until the mid-20th century. It shoots 7.62x54mmR cartridges from a belt-fed ammunition system and can fire up to 600 rounds per minute. The gun was also known for its iconic water-cooled design, which helped to prevent overheating during sustained firing.

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