The records also show how Ukraine’s forces are becoming more successful and provide insight into how the eight-month-old conflict may develop given that Russia is currently coming under heavy pressure on the southern front along the Black Sea coast.
The hastily abandoned headquarters in the small riverside town in eastern Ukraine had concrete steps leading down into the basement. “Command Group” were damp-smelling bunkers filled with burnt documents that were crammed into furnaces. Others were dispersed all over the ground. Unidentified staff officer drew a cartoon soldier and wrote about returning home in a flowered notepad. The book’s 91 handwritten pages also contained additional information, including the whereabouts of Russian intelligence units, a log of commander calls, information on fights, numbers of casualties, and destroyed equipment. reports of a morale and disciplinary breakdown.The documents found in the bunker totaled thousands of pages. More than a thousand of them were examined by Reuters. They provide new insight into Russian military operations and the circumstances surrounding one of President Vladimir Putin’s most painful battlefield losses: Russia’s disorganized retreat from northeastern Ukraine in September.