It has been 239 days since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. On Thursday, the fighting in the east and the south continues against the backdrop of the Kremlin’s decision to declare martial law in many regions of Russia.
The fighting goes on
In the east, the Russian forces conducted limited offensive operations to recapture some of the territory they lost during the Ukrainian blitz that took place in September. At the same time, the Ukrainian forces are advancing toward Svatove.
In the south, the Ukrainian forces keep pushing toward Kherson City with repeated offensives in the northwestern part of the Kherson province.
Meanwhile, it is becoming increasingly evident that the Russian military plans to evacuate Kherson in the face of the Ukrainian counteroffensive. Over the past few days, the Russian military and Russian local administration officials have prepared the environment for an evacuation of Kherson City and the surrounding areas through public statements but also through the relocation of offices and civilians from the city.
As with many aspects of the Russian campaign in Ukraine, there is a sinister hue in the evacuation of Kherson. Under the guise of civilian evacuations, the Russian military is forcibly removing tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilians from the country.
Related: Why recapturing Kherson is so important to Ukraine?
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.
Related: By using Iranian Shahed-136 drones is Russia admitting that its defense industry can’t keep up?
As of Thursday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense is claiming the following Russian casualties:
- 66,650 Russian troops killed (approximately three times that number wounded and captured)
- 5,255 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles destroyed
- 4,005 vehicles and fuel tanks
- 2,567 tanks
- 1,646 artillery pieces
- 1,311 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 Thursday, 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: Destroyed Russian vehicles in Ukraine (Photo by WikiUki1990/Wikimedia Commons)
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