It has been 147 days since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. On Wednesday, the Russian military is launching offensive operations against three parts of the Ukrainian frontline but has failed to break through.
The situation in the Donbas
In the northwestern part of the Donbas, the Russian military launched offensive ground operations in the direction of Slovyansk from two directions (Izium and Barvinkove). In the northeastern part of the Donbas, the Russian forces attacked Siversk. In the southern part, the Russian forces persisted with their push against Bakhmut. However, on all three fronts, the Russian forces failed to achieve any significant gains and only made some incremental ones in the direction of Bakhmut, where most of the fighting is taking place.
Moving to the south, the Ukrainian military is setting the conditions for an attack on Kherson, which has been occupied by the Russians since the first days of the war. Using High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), the Ukrainian forces are targeting Russian ammunition depots, logistical hubs, and the only bridge that connects the city with the Russian positions to the east.
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 almost 900 Russian tanks (which amounts to more tanks than the combined armor capabilities of France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom) and more than 4,700 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 20,000 fatalities in the war so far. 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 Wednesday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense is claiming the following Russian casualties:
- 38,750 Russian troops killed (approximately three times that number wounded and captured)
- 3,905 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles destroyed
- 2,775 vehicles and fuel tanks
- 1,700 tanks
- 856 artillery pieces
- 703 tactical unmanned aerial systems
- 221 fighter, attack, and transport jets
- 250 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS)
- 188 attack and transport helicopters
- 167 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses
- 113 anti-aircraft batteries
- 70 special equipment platforms, such as bridging equipment
- 15 boats and cutters
- four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems
Over the past weeks, the rate of Russian casualties has slowed down despite continuous pressure and offensive operations in the Donbas. This suggests two things: First, the Russian commanders are taking a more cautious approach to their offensive operations, fully utilizing combined arms warfare to achieve their goals; and second, the Ukrainian forces are running out of combat power or ammunition — and this is expected after nearly five months of war against the Russian military. Recent reports from the ground suggest that both of these factors are true, and that the fatigue of warfare is catching up on both sides.
On Wednesday, Ukrainian forces inflicted the heaviest casualties in the direction 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: A destroyed Russian tank and vehicle in Trostyanets in northeastern Ukraine. The vehicles were part of a destroyed Russian armored column. (Wikimedia Commons)
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