It has been 251 days since the Russian invasion began. On Tuesday, the fighting continues all across Ukraine with the Russian forces in retreat.
Counteroffensives and cruise missiles
The Ukrainian counteroffensives in the east and south of the country continue in force, with minor gains achieved every day.
In the south, the Russian forces continue to withdraw from the western bank of the Dnipro River, while the Ukrainian forces are showing them with precision-guided munitions and artillery.
In the east, the Ukrainian counteroffensive continues to push toward Kreminna and Svatove.
Meanwhile, the Russian missile attacks have resumed in force. Yesterday, the Russian military launched more than 50 Kh-101 and Kh-555 cruise missiles against Ukrainian critical infrastructure, focusing particularly on the energy sector. According to the Ukrainian military, air defenses managed to shoot down 44 of the cruise missiles. The Russian fixation with the Ukrainian energy infrastructure is designed to put maximum pressure on the Ukrainian population as winter and low temperatures approach.
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 1,400 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 up to 50,000 casualties (killed and wounded) in the war so far.
In the summer, Sir Tony Radakin, the British Chief of the Defence Staff, recently 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.
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:
- 72,470 Russian troops killed (approximately three times that number wounded and captured)
- 5,501 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles destroyed
- 4,143 vehicles and fuel tanks
- 2,698 tanks
- 1,730 artillery pieces
- 1,415 tactical unmanned aerial systems
- 276 fighter, attack, and transport jets
- 383 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS)
- 257 attack and transport helicopters
- 397 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses
- 197 anti-aircraft batteries
- 154 special equipment platforms, such as bridging equipment
- 16 boats and cutters
- four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems
For most of May, the Russian military suffered the greatest casualties around the Slovyansk, Kryvyi Rih, and Zaporizhzhia areas, reflecting the heavy fighting that was going on there. As the days and weeks went on, most of the heavy fighting shifted toward the direction of Bakhmut, southeast of Slovyansk, around Severodonetsk, Lyman, and Lysychansk.
Then the location of the heaviest casualties shifted again westwards toward the area of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia — where one of Europe’s largest nuclear plants is located — as a result of a Ukrainian counteroffensive in and around the area.
Then, the concentration of casualties once more shifted back to the Donbas, especially in and around Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, the two urban centers the Russians managed to capture in July. For most of August, the heaviest fighting took place in the Donbas, where the Russian forces unsuccessfully tried to breach the Ukrainian defenses and capture the Donetsk province. But lately, most of the fighting has shifted to the south where the Ukrainian military is mounting a major counteroffensive to recapture Kherson. It is now there, on the southern front, that the Russian military is suffering the heaviest casualties.
On Tuesday, Ukrainian forces continued to inflict the heaviest in the direction of Bakhmut, which is located in the south of the Donbas, and Avdiivka, which is located to the south of Bakhmut.
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: Ukrainian technicians are removing an unexploded air-dropped bomb FAB-500 earlier in the war. The bomb was dropped on a nine-story residential building in Kharkiv by a Russian aircraft.
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