It has been 328 days since the Russian invasion began. On Tuesday, the fighting around Bakhmut continues in earnest.
Bakhmut and Soledar
Although the Russian forces have undoubtedly made gains in the small salt mining town of Soledar, which is located a few miles to the north of Bakhmut, it is still unclear if they have captured it completely. The Ukrainian military is putting up fierce resistance, and Russian forces are reporting brutal fighting for every house.
Led by Wagner Group, the Russian forces are also attacking south of Bakhmut in an attempt to encircle the town and cut off the Ukrainian lines of communication and supply. The Ukrainian military, however, is holding the line.
In the east, there is fighting both in the north and south of the sector. In the north, the Russian military is launching constant small-scale attacks to regain territory it lost around Svatove and Kupyansk. In the south, the Ukrainian military continues to push hard in the direction of Kreminna.
Finally, in the south, nothing has changed. The Russian military continues to expand its fortifications and is also gathering supplies and troops, while the Ukrainians are targeting Russian positions with long-range fires.
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Every day, the Ukrainian military is providing an update on their claimed Russian casualties. These numbers are official figures and haven’t been separately verified.
However, Western intelligence assessments and independent reporting corroborate, to a certain extent, the Ukrainian casualty claims. For example, the Oryx open-source intelligence research page has visually verified the destruction or capture of more than 1,600 Russian tanks (which amounts to more tanks than the combined armor capabilities of France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom) and more than 5,300 military vehicles of all types; this assessment has been confirmed by the British Ministry of Defense.
The same independent verification exists for most of the other Ukrainian claims. Recently, the Pentagon acknowledged that the Russian military has lost thousands of combat vehicles of all types, including over 1,000 tanks, and dozens of fighter jets and helicopters.
Furthermore, more recent reports that are citing Western intelligence officials indicate that the Russian military has suffered more than 100,000 casualties (killed and wounded) in the war so far.
In the summer, Sir Tony Radakin, the British Chief of the Defence Staff, had told the BBC that the West understands that more than 50,000 Russian troops have been killed or wounded in the conflict thus far. If we were to take the Ukrainian figures as accurate, the number mentioned by Sir Radakin is on the low side of the spectrum.
In November, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley shared the U.S. military’s assessment that the Russian military has lost more than 100,000 troops so far in the war.
Yet, it is very hard to verify the actual numbers unless one is on the ground. However, after adjusting for the fog of war and other factors, the Western official numbers are fairly close to the Ukrainian claims.
As of Tuesday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense is claiming the following Russian casualties:
- 116,950 Russian troops killed (approximately three times that number wounded and captured)
- 6,215 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles destroyed
- 4,877 vehicles and fuel tanks
- 3,121 tanks
- 2,104 artillery pieces
- 1,872 tactical unmanned aerial systems
- 749 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses
- 441 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS)
- 286 fighter, attack, and transport jets
- 276 attack and transport helicopters
- 220 anti-aircraft batteries
- 190 special equipment platforms, such as bridging equipment
- 17 boats and cutters
- four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems
On Tuesday, Ukrainian forces continued to inflict the heaviest in the direction of Bakhmut, which is located in the south of the Donbas, and along the Kreminna-Svatove line in the east.
The stated goal of the Russian military for the renewed offensive in the east is to establish full control over the pro-Russian breakaway territories of Donetsk and Luhansk and create and maintain a land corridor between these territories and the occupied Crimea.
Feature Image: Wagner Group mercenaries around Bakhmut. (RIS MoD)
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