It has been 337 days since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. On Thursday, the Russian forces are setting the conditions for their upcoming large-scale offensives.
The offensives are coming
Over the past few days, the Russian military has been sending small teams of troops against the Ukrainian defenses in order to disperse and distract the Ukrainian forces. Although Ukraine doesn’t have as serious a force generation problem as Russia, Kyiv is still restrained by casualties and the training of volunteers and can’t have all sectors equally manned.
“Russian forces may be engaging in limited spoiling attacks across most of the frontline in Ukraine in order to disperse and distract Ukrainian forces and set conditions to launch a decisive offensive operation in Luhansk Oblast,” the Institute for the Study of War assessed in its latest estimate of the war.
In the east, the Ukrainian forces managed to make some local advances toward Kreminna but have yet to reach the town in force. At every step, the Russian military is trying to spoil the Ukrainian advance with constant counterattacks.
In the Donbas, the Russian forces are in complete control of Soledar and continue with their offensives against Bakhmut and Avdiivka.
In the south, the Russian military continues to launch small-scale attacks in Zaporizhzhia, likely in an attempt to fix the Ukrainian forces there and to allow for a successful offensive operation elsewhere on the battlefield.
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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.
Related: Ukraine destroys S-400 air defense system claimed to be able to shoot down the F-35
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:
- 123,860 Russian troops killed (approximately three times that number wounded and captured)
- 6,334 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles destroyed
- 4,986 vehicles and fuel tanks
- 3,175 tanks
- 2,169 artillery pieces
- 1,908 tactical unmanned aerial systems
- 749 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses
- 452 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS)
- 292 fighter, attack, and transport jets
- 282 attack and transport helicopters
- 220 anti-aircraft batteries
- 195 special equipment platforms, such as bridging equipment
- 18 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 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: Russian tanks captured by Ukraine during Russia’s retreat from Izyum, September 2022. (Ukrinform TV/Wikimedia Commons)
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