It has been 266 days since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. On Wednesday, the Ukrainian military continues to be on the offensive after a day of Russian missile strikes all across the country.
The missile that struck a Polish farm approximately four miles from the Ukrainian border on Tuesday seems to have been either debris from a Russian cruise missile or an errand Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile, likely an S-300, that tried to intercept an incoming Russian projectile.
It turned scary there for a moment
Poland is a member of NATO, and an intentional attack against the country would likely trigger Article 5 of the transatlantic alliance, known as its common defense clause, which would, in turn, bring the U.S. into the war. So the fact that the situation seems to have de-escalated is a good thing as neither side desires an escalation in what would be a three-party war between Ukraine and NATO on the one side and Russia on the other.
Meanwhile, on the ground in Ukraine, the war goes on. The Ukrainian military continues to push hard in the east, trying to reach the key logistical hub of Svatove through Kreminna. Now that a lot of Ukrainian forces and resources have been freed up from the counteroffensive in the south in Kherson, the Ukrainian military can bring more concentrated force to particular points on the battlefield.
On their part, the Russian forces persisted with their ground attacks against Bakhmut and Avdiivka in the Donbas, but with little success as the Ukrainian defenses are holding strong.
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 more than 100,000 casualties (killed and wounded) in the war so far.
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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:
- 82,710 Russian troops killed (approximately three times that number wounded and captured)
- 5,797 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles destroyed
- 4,360 vehicles and fuel tanks
- 2,871 tanks
- 1,860 artillery pieces
- 1,525 tactical unmanned aerial systems
- 278 fighter, attack, and transport jets
- 393 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS)
- 261 attack and transport helicopters
- 474 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses
- 209 anti-aircraft batteries
- 160 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, Avdiivka, which located farther to the south of Bakhmut, and Lyman 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: Rescue workers search the remains of a school in Chernigiv, Ukraine earlier in the war following Russian bombing. (Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine)
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