Russia’s former “hammer” force, the 11th Army Corps no longer exists

4 min readOct 31, 2022

Kung Chan, founder of ANBOUND

According to various media reports, Russia’s once powerful armed forces, the 11th Army Corps holding the throat of the Baltic Sea, have been completely crushed by the Ukrainian army on the Ukrainian battlefield. The powerful and terrifying armed force no longer exists and disappears.

Before Russia widened its war in Ukraine starting in late February, there were no fewer than 12,000 Russian troops in Kaliningrad with around 100 T-72 tanks, a couple hundred BTR fighting vehicles, Msta-S howitzers and BM-27 and BM-30 rocket-launchers. This powerful front, which existed as the 11th Army Corps, was held on the land of Kaliningrad.

In fact, the 11th Army Corps is located on the western border of Lithuania, one of NATO’s weakest members, the anvil of a possible Russian invasion of the former Soviet republics of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

Due to the urgent need for reinforcements in the war in Ukraine, the Kremlin was forced to mobilize the 11th Army Corps in key positions, which the Russian army transported by ship and plane to Belgorod in southern Russia and then to Ukraine near Kharkov. After only three months of hard fighting, the strength of this legion is almost non-existent. Reuters obtained some documents from the 11th Army and found a spreadsheet dated August 30 showing that the corps had reached 71 percent of its strength just before the massive counteroffensive in Ukraine, meaning the unit was almost full. However, after the fighting, some battalions had only one-tenth of their original strength, which meant that there were no people left in the main force.

In the Kharkiv counterattack, Ukrainian forces liberated 1,000 square miles of Kharkiv Oblast in an exciting two-week period, and thousands of Russians fled, surrendered, or died instantly. Unfortunately, the 11th Army Corps suffered more losses in the region than most Russian units. In late September, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C., called the corps “devastated.” The conclusion of the Ukrainian General Staff is an understatement, saying that the corps lost 200 vehicles and half of its troops in the counteroffensive.

Whatever the narrative, the general picture is that it’s possible the 11th Army Corps survives. But it’s almost certainly an empty shell right now, taking months to rest, reequip, and recruit new recruits, and after doing all that, it can regain a fraction of its former strength. Because of the war in Ukraine, this former hammer unit of the Russian army no longer exists. Now Kaliningrad is not defended by Russian troops at all, and countries such as Olan and Lithuania have almost put the key land of Kaliningrad back in their mouths and can swallow it at any time.

According to data released by Ukraine, the number of Russian troops killed in Ukraine is about to exceed the 70,000 mark. According to the general casualty ratio, if one person is killed, three people will be injured, then the Russian army will be injured another 210,000 people. Combined, the total number of Russian casualties would be a staggering 280,000.

Before the war, the Russian Ground Forces totaled 300,000–400,000 people, and this figure also included some non-volunteers. Now if there are 280,000 casualties, it means that the original excellent part of the Russian army has almost been “burned out”, which includes both dead and wounded soldiers. However, even considering this situation, many supplementary soldiers were desperately sent to the front, allegedly “training while fighting”, which proved that the front-line strength of the Russian army was not a problem of “tightness”, but really close to “running out”, and also proved that the Russian army was really unable to fight in this war.

So what can Putin do in this case?

The only way is to use the ability of information warfare, including Putin himself and some other Russian leaders, who are extremely good at playing the “real and false”. In the next step, Russia mainly relies on this to counter Ukraine, not the real Russian army, which has been crippled.

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ANBOUND is a multinational independent think tank, specializing in public policy research, incl. economy, urban and industry, geopolitical issues. Est. 1993.