It has been 308 days since the Russian invasion began. On Wednesday, as the year is reaching its end, the fighting in Ukraine continues to remain largely statical.
A frozen battlefield
In the east, the Ukrainian military continues to push along the Kreminna-Svatove line of contact. The heavy rains and thick mud of the fall and early winter have largely restricted the Ukrainian forces from conducting mobile offensive maneuvers. And the Russian forces have been counterattacking regularly in an attempt to stop any Ukrainian momentum.
In the Donbas, the Russian forces may “be nearing culmination” in their offensive against Bakhmut, according to the Institute for the Study of War. Moscow has pushed hard for almost six months but has achieved little at the cost of thousands of troops and hundreds of tanks, armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles, artillery pieces, tactical unmanned aerial vehicles, and other weapon systems.
In the south, nothing has changed. The Russian military continues to enhance its defensive lines on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River. The Ukrainian forces are using long-range fires to target, disrupt, and destroy any Russian military target within range.
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 1,500 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 Wednesday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense is claiming the following Russian casualties:
- 103,770 Russian troops killed (approximately three times that number wounded and captured)
- 6,037 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles destroyed
- 4,660 vehicles and fuel tanks
- 3,017 tanks
- 1,999 artillery pieces
- 1,707 tactical unmanned aerial systems
- 283 fighter, attack, and transport jets
- 418 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS)
- 267 attack and transport helicopters
- 653 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses
- 212 anti-aircraft batteries
- 179 special equipment platforms, such as bridging equipment
- 16 boats and cutters
- four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems
On Wednesday, 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: A Russian tank crew during a rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade in Moscow. (Photo by Vyacheslav Argenberg/Wikimedia Commons)