Ukrainian soldiers take part in a training exercise ( Image: Andy Commins / Daily Mirror)
Ukrainian soldiers take part in a training exercise ( Image: Andy Commins / Daily Mirror)

Russian soldiers have been killed by members of their own army in another disastrous setback for Vladimir Putin ‘s forces involving “flamethrowers”.

Ukrainian military chiefs said the friendly fire was “positively perceived” and thanked their enemies for helping to drive out “racist occupiers”.

It is understood to have happened in the Zaporizhzhya province on Sunday.

Ukraine’s 97th Infantry Battalion posted on Facebook following the incident: “The leadership of the 97th Infantry Battalion expresses its satisfaction with the actions of the Russian occupiers, who today, using the heavy Zantsepek flamethrower system in the Zaporizhzhya direction, used it against their positions and actually burned the racist occupiers from Ukrainian soil.

“Such actions are positively perceived and supported in every way by the Ukrainian military.”

Reports claim the strike was carried out using thermobaric flamethrowers, and TOS-1 rocket launchers.

Russia has not publicly commented on the incident, and it is unclear how much damage was inflicted on Putin’s troops.

There have been claims from the same region that demoralised Russian troops have been vandalising their own vehicles so they cannot be sent into battle

The Zaporizhzhia Military Administration posted on Telegram: “According to local residents, Russian troops have shelled 20 of their own vehicles in Polohy in order to avoid going to the front line; they blamed the shelling on [Ukrainian] resistance fighters in the temporarily occupied territory of Zaporizhzhia.”

A desperate Putin may “escalate” the Ukraine invasion as the only way out and could even use nuclear weapons, a former NATO commander said.

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has seen the Russian forces suffer far greater losses than many expected and fail to make significant inroads into their neighbouring country.

At the Victory Day celebrations in Moscow on Monday, Putin cut a sombre figure as he was unable to announce the breakthroughs he would have wanted.

And with the pressure growing, Sir James Everard, a former NATO Deputy Supreme Allied Commander in Europe said that Putin could “significantly escalate” the invasion with over 600,000 troops or even choose the nuclear option.

He said that the Russian president is now under threat from army generals due to the failure so far in Ukraine.

“He is in a terrible place. It was entirely of his own making,” Sir James said. “I can’t see him achieving his objectives without escalating conventionally.”

But he added: “Where Putin has an advantage over the West is that he has a family of nuclear weapons. From the very small to the big city destroyers. In the UK, we have the city destroyers, but not the small ones. Perhaps for Putin, nuclear escalation isn’t as big as we see it to be. I still think it would be horrific.”

At the same time Joe Biden said on Monday he is worried that Putin does not have a way out of the Ukraine war, and the US president said he was trying to figure out what to do about that.

Warmongering Putin claimed yesterday that Russia carried out a ‘preventative’ strike on Ukraine and defended his war during his Victory Day speech.

Putin, whose health is the subject of persistent rumours, addressed the nation at the annual military parade, which marks the defeat of Nazi Germany.

The Kremlin leader tried to justify his invasion by claiming Russia was in danger.

He told crowds that the devastating intervention in Ukraine had been necessary because the West was “preparing for the invasion of our land, including Crimea”.

Speaking directly to troops, the Kremlin boss said: “You’re fighting for our people in Donbas, for the security of our motherland, Russia.”