It has been 322 days since the Russian invasion began. On Wednesday, the fight for Bakhmut continues in earnest.
Soledar and Bakhmut
In the Donbas, the battle for Bakhmut continues. Despite Russian tactical gains in the small town of Soledar, which is located a few miles to the north of Bakhmut, Ukrainian forces continue to resist. Despite claims to the contrary, the Russian forces haven’t captured the entirety of Soledar. Fierce street fighting is taking place on every block. And even if the Russian forces manage to capture the settlement, the Ukrainian lines of communication and supply that lead to Bakhmut wouldn’t be cut.
In the east, the two sides continue to fight it out along the Kreminna-Svatove line of contact. Both the Russian and Ukrainian forces have been conducting attacks and counterattacks in the area.
In the south, the situation remains fairly similar. The Russian forces are digging in and improving the fortifications in anticipation of a Ukrainian counteroffensive on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River. On the other side, the Ukrainian forces have been striking at targets of opportunity with long-range fires and getting a crash course on large-scale amphibious operations.
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 1,600 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:
- 112,960 Russian troops killed (approximately three times that number wounded and captured)
- 6,159 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles destroyed
- 4,826 vehicles and fuel tanks
- 3,094 tanks
- 2,078 artillery pieces
- 1,862 tactical unmanned aerial systems
- 723 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses
- 437 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS)
- 285 fighter, attack, and transport jets
- 275 attack and transport helicopters
- 217 anti-aircraft batteries
- 184 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 soldier with the Ukrainian Land Forces observes the sight of an 82 mm mortar Mar. 19, 2016, in order to lay the mortar for deflection and elevation during a mortar live-fire exercise at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center near Yavoriv, Ukraine as part as Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine in 2016. (U.S. Army photo by Major Russell M. Gordon, 10th Press Camp Headquarters)
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