It has been 323 days since the Russian invasion began. On Thursday, the Russian forces in Ukraine are trying to make some headway in the vicinity while a new Russian overall commander has taken over.
War and politics
Yesterday, the Kremlin announced that Chief of the General Staff General Valery Gerasimov is taking over from General Sergei Surovikin and is now in command of the fighting in Ukraine. For the Russian troops fighting on the ground, the news of a new commander is likely to be ignored. After all, despite the several changes of command, the Russian military hasn’t achieved any of its primary objectives and has only lost tens of thousands of troops in the process.
In the east, the Russian and Ukrainian forces are embroiled in heavy fighting along the Kreminna-Svatove line of contact. The Kremlin has redeployed formations of its elite VDV airborne troops in the area in an attempt to stem the Ukrainian advances. The loss of Kreminna and Svatove would seriously hinder Russian offensive and defensive operations in the east and even the Donbas.
In the Donbas, the heavy fighting for Bakhmut continues in earnest. The two sides are fighting for Soledar, a small town located a few miles to the north of Bakhmut.
In the south, the situation remains fairly similar. The Russian forces continue to improve their defensive lines while the Ukrainians persist with their long-range fires campaign.
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 Thursday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense is claiming the following Russian casualties:
- 113,990 Russian troops killed (approximately three times that number wounded and captured)
- 6,159 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles destroyed
- 4,826 vehicles and fuel tanks
- 3,094 tanks
- 2,082 artillery pieces
- 1,865 tactical unmanned aerial systems
- 723 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses
- 437 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS)
- 285 fighter, attack, and transport jets
- 276 attack and transport helicopters
- 218 anti-aircraft batteries
- 184 special equipment platforms, such as bridging equipment
- 16 boats and cutters
- four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems
On Thursday, Ukrainian forces continued to inflict the heaviest in the direction of Bakhmut, which is located in the south of the Donbas, and Lyman, which is located in the northeast of the Donbas.
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: Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov is now the new commander of Russia’s war on Ukraine. (Kremlin Press Office)
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