It has been 240 days since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. On Friday, the Russian forces have started withdrawing from the south under pressure from the advancing Ukrainians.
Retreat from Kherson
In the south, the Ukrainian forces are advancing in the northern part of the Kherson province while the Russian military has started evacuating the western bank of the Dnipro River. How successful the Russian forces will be in withdrawing their troops in an orderly fashion remains to be seen. Judging from previous river operations, the Russian military is in for another defeat.
In the east, the Ukrainian forces are slowly but deliberately edging closer to Svatove, a crucial logistical hub, from the direction of Lyman in the south. Last week it looked like the Ukrainians would try to attempt a two-pronged attack on Svatove from the south and the north. But now it looks like they are only attacking from the south.
In the Donbas, the Russian military continues with its assaults against Bakhmut, but despite capturing a few miles since the offensive started three months ago, the Russian forces haven’t had much success.
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 1,300 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 Friday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense is claiming the following Russian casualties:
- 66,750 Russian troops killed (approximately three times that number wounded and captured)
- 5,258 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles destroyed
- 4,006 vehicles and fuel tanks
- 2,573 tanks
- 1,648 artillery pieces
- 1,325 tactical unmanned aerial systems
- 269 fighter, attack, and transport jets
- 372 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS)
- 243 attack and transport helicopters
- 329 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses
- 189 anti-aircraft batteries
- 147 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 Friday, Ukrainian forces continued to inflict the heaviest in the direction of Bakhmut, which is located in the south of the Donbas, and Kramatorsk, which is located in the central 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: Airborne troops of the Russian Brigade, performing duty in Task Force Eagle (TFE) during Operation JOINT ENDEAVOR (the multi-national peacekeeping mission in Bosnia), march to their waiting trucks to transport them to their plane to be transported home. (Photo by Teresa H. Hawkins/Wikimedia Commons)
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