It has been 330 days since the Russian invasion began. On Thursday, the situation around Bakhmut continues to be chaotic.
Chaos around Soledar
Despite Russian claims that Soledar, a small salt mining town just to the north of Bakhmut, has been captured, U.S. intelligence suggests that Ukrainian forces are still contesting the town and are preventing the Russians from completely capturing it. To make matters more chaotic, British military intelligence assessed earlier in the week that the Russian forces were highly likely in control of Soledar.
Soledar once more proves that the fog of war is very real but also shows the fierce fighting that is taking place in the area, with town blocks and small settlements changing hands numerous times over the span of a few days or even hours.
Most of the fighting is taking place in the Donbas, with daily Russian attacks in the direction of Soledar, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Donetsk City.
In the east, the Russian forces continued with their limited counterattacks along the Kreminna-Svatove line in an attempt to recapture lost territory.
In the south, the Russian military is gathering forces in the Zaporizhzhia province, likely in anticipation of a Ukrainian counteroffensive in that direction.
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 Thursday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense is claiming the following Russian casualties:
- 118,530 Russian troops killed (approximately three times that number wounded and captured)
- 6,235 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles destroyed
- 4,896 vehicles and fuel tanks
- 3,136 tanks
- 2,122 artillery pieces
- 1,882 tactical unmanned aerial systems
- 749 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses
- 442 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS)
- 287 fighter, attack, and transport jets
- 277 attack and transport helicopters
- 220 anti-aircraft batteries
- 190 special equipment platforms, such as bridging equipment
- 17 boats and cutters
- four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems
On Thursday, Ukrainian forces continued to inflict the heaviest in the direction of Bakhmut, which is located in the south of the Donbas, and along the Kreminna-Svatove line 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: A Ukrainian mechanized infantry soldier calls for support as he moves forward to intercept Opposing Forces (OPFOR), during the culminating force-on-force exercise of Combined Resolve XII at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany Aug. 19, 2019. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Thomas Mort)
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