A Ukrainian sniper from an elite unit assigned to disrupt Russian forces shared in a recent interview that he endured 16 surgeries to mend his body and teeth after being gravely injured by a Russian shell.
The sniper, using the pseudonym Sasha, disclosed to CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh that he suffered severe injuries to his chest, legs, and face during an incident in March of last year.
While concealing parts of his face and altering his voice, presumably due to the confidential nature of his work and the high-value target nature of snipers, Sasha revealed that he underwent 16 surgeries to reset bones, reconstruct his body, and restore his teeth.
He summarized the experience as “unpleasant” and mentioned that remnants of his injuries are still noticeable in his appearance. Nonetheless, with the surgeries completed, he eagerly returned to combat. Sasha’s sniper unit is stationed on the front lines within the Zaporizhzhia region.
Another member of Sasha’s sniper team, which is affiliated with Ukraine’s security services (SBU), articulated that their mission revolves around “sniper terror.” This approach is aimed at “demoralizing and incapacitating” enemy forces, effectively breaking their spirit.
The psychological impact on adversaries and undermining their morale has long been a key strategy within sniper operations.
CNN’s report on the unit indicates that they have inflicted considerable harm on Russian forces; however, the exact number of kills was not disclosed.
A separate BBC report on another Ukrainian sniper unit, known as the “Ghosts of Bakhmut,” asserts a tally of over 500 kills, with their leader claiming more than 70.
Despite this, a member of the unit expressed modesty, remarking that the count of kills is “not a source of pride.” He clarified that their intent is not to take lives but rather to dismantle the enemy.
Not all sniper activities involve precise long-range shots. In fact, many snipers prioritize activities like reconnaissance.
A group of snipers interviewed by the Kyiv Post indicated that their preferred strategy is to relay critical battlefield intelligence to artillery or mortar units, avoiding the risk of exposing their location by taking shots.
According to the snipers, firing a shot often triggers a swift retaliatory response from the Russians, who utilize indirect fire to neutralize the perceived threat.
In the latest update on Ukrainian snipers, Sasha informed CNN that his unit has also suffered losses, revealing that they have “lost many people.”
He added, “The most skilled ones tend to depart first.”
In a CNN video, SBU snipers were seen utilizing American-made Barrett sniper rifles, a favored choice among Ukrainian marksmen, as reported by the Kyiv Post.
A Ukrainian sniper known as Federchuk revealed that the Canadian-made Cadex Defence CDX-33 TAC series rifle, chambered in .338 Lapua Magnum, swiftly gained popularity among snipers early in the conflict.
Other notable sniper rifles mentioned by the Kyiv Post include the Finnish-made SAKO TRG and the US-made Barrett Multi-Role Adaptive Design (MRAD), which are commonly chambered in .338 and .308.
The Barrett MRAD gained prominence among various US military snipers, including special operations units, a few years back due to its versatile design allowing for three different calibers.
In its analysis, CNN raised the possibility that the intense operational pace of Ukrainian snipers might be exerting excessive stress on their weapons, potentially exceeding their design limits, although this remains uncertain.