In January and February, the Russian army tried to capture the small coal mining town of Vuhledar in southern Donbas.
A powerful mechanized force consisting of elite Russian marine brigades attempted to break through the Ukrainian defenses and capture Vuhledar.
If the Russian military had been successful, they would have set the stage for an operational breakthrough. Heavy casualties marked the end of the Russian offensive. The Ukrainians used this weapon system to stop Russian elite tanks and infantry.
How Ukraine “RAAMed” it’s way to victory in Vuhledar
As usual, the Ukrainian army released footage of the failed Russian assaults in the area around Vuhledar after the battle was over. Kyiv has skillfully used the information space to carry out psychological operations and also to boost internal morale.
The footage showed one Russian tank after another attempting to breach a field outside Vuhledar. As Russian tanks and other weapons systems tried to advance, they exploded. But there was no artillery hit or anti-tank missile trail.
And yet Russian tanks, armored personnel carriers, and infantry fighting vehicles kept exploding. In fact, in just a few days, the Russian military lost more than 30 heavy weapons systems in the area, and more than 1,000 soldiers were killed or wounded.
The answer to the mystery of Russian defeats is RAAM or M718 Remote Anti-Armor Mine.
Essentially artillery shells containing various anti-tank mines, RAAM is a highly effective weapon, as the failed Russian mechanized assault demonstrated.
During the assault on the Ukrainian positions at Vuhledar, the Ukrainian troops rained M718 RAAMs down on the likely course of the Russian approach.
Nonetheless, the Ukrainians continued to fire artillery-dropped mines during the Russian assaults, laying M718 RAAMs in front of and behind the Russian motorized divisions in order to cause chaos.
The failed Russian assault on Vuhledar demonstrates the difficulty of breaking into an entrenched position that is covered by artillery and mines. In fact, in the absence of air superiority or long-range fire, the options available to an army in such a situation are limited.
Ukraine employs both the M-777 155mm howitzer and the M109 Paladin 155mm self-propelled howitzer, both of which can fire the M718 RAAM.
The United States has provided about 10,000 M718 RAAMs to the Ukrainian military through various security aid packages.
Used for area denial purposes, the M718 RAAM is very effective at protecting a flank or potential route of advance without committing many troops. The ammunition is also ideal for mobile defense when the defender does not have enough troops to defend the entire line of contact adequately.
The M718 RAAM is a 155mm artillery shell that contains nine anti-tank mines. Fired from 155mm howitzers, such as the M-777 155mm gun, the M718 RAAM can spread its mines up to 10 miles away. Mines are designed to self-destruct after a set amount of time.