Vladimir Poutine counts on them to take the control of a maximum of territories in Ukraine and to destroy the military forces there. Their names: the BTG, for “battalion tactical groups” ( batal’onnaya takticheskaya gruppa, in Russian), the lethal weapon of the invasion launched by the Russian president in the early hours of February 24. At least a hundred of them have been deployed over the past few months on the outskirts of Ukraine. That is more than 100,000 fighters and thousands of armored vehicles and tanks.
These BTG form the elite troops of the Russian army. And are all the more formidable as they aggregate, within the same unit, the best elements of different regiments. Composed of professional soldiers (armored, infantry, artillery, engineers), each BTG has a few hundred soldiers and officers. “Their small size has the merit of making them agile and quickly deployable,” noted the Chatham House Institute in a 2019 report.