It has been 246 days since the Russian invasion began. On Thursday, the war in Ukraine continues largely unchanged with the Ukrainian forces on the offensive and the Russian military trying to stem the Ukrainian strategic momentum.
The war goes on
In the east, the Ukrainian forces have slowed down considerably from the rapid advances of the previous weeks and are now slowly chipping away at the Russian defenses. The goal of the Ukrainian general staff continues to be Svatove, a key logistical hub.
The Russians are very much in the strategic defense in the east. However, on Wednesday, Russian units conducted localized ground assaults in the northern part of the eastern sector, but most likely in order to fix in place the Ukrainian units there in the area as opposed to an honest attempt to regain territory.
In the south, the Russian forces continue to bolster their defenses in the Kherson province and its capital, Kherson, all the while being under fire from the Ukrainian artillery, which is mainly using the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS), and M-777 155mm howitzer.
As for the situation in the Donbas, the Russian forces continued with offensive operations against Bakhmut but with little success.
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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 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.
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As of Thursday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense is claiming the following Russian casualties:
- 69,220 Russian troops killed (approximately three times that number wounded and captured)
- 5,364 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles destroyed
- 4,078 vehicles and fuel tanks
- 2,631 tanks
- 1,690 artillery pieces
- 1,398 tactical unmanned aerial systems
- 271 fighter, attack, and transport jets
- 379 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS)
- 249 attack and transport helicopters
- 351 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses
- 192 anti-aircraft batteries
- 150 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: Ukrainian Soldiers during a training exercise in 2016. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Whitney Hughes/114th Public Affairs Detachment)
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