It has been 195 days since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. On Tuesday, the Ukrainian military continues to push with its counteroffensive in the south.
The war goes on
The Ukrainian assault is slowly but steadily chipping away at the Russian military’s capabilities in the south. Ground assaults combined with long-range strikes are taking out the key logistical functions that fuel the Russian army on the field.
Since the start of the counteroffensive, the Ukrainian military has wisely kept an operational silence with regard to developments on the ground. The Ukrainian military lacks the robust offensive capabilities to outflank and surround an enemy quickly. So the counteroffensive is pursuing a slow and deliberate pace.
“As ISW has reported, military operations on the scale of the ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensive do not succeed or fail in a day or a week. Ukrainians and the West should not fall for Russian information operations portraying the Ukrainian counteroffensive in Kherson Oblast as having failed almost instantly or that depict Ukraine as a helpless puppet of Western masters for launching it at this time,” the Institute for the Study of War assessed.
Meanwhile, in the Donbas, the Russian military conducted ground assaults in the direction of Siversk (in the northeast of the Donbas), Bakhmut (in the south of the Donbas), and northwest of Donetsk City.
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 almost 1,000 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 20,000 fatalities in the war so far. 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.
As of Tuesday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense is claiming the following Russian casualties:
- 50,150 Russian troops killed (approximately three times that number wounded and captured)
- 4,484 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles destroyed
- 3,305 vehicles and fuel tanks
- 2,077 tanks
- 1,179 artillery pieces
- 876 tactical unmanned aerial systems
- 236 fighter, attack, and transport jets
- 296 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS)
- 207 attack and transport helicopters
- 209 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses
- 156 anti-aircraft batteries
- 109 special equipment platforms, such as bridging equipment
- 15 boats and cutters
- four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems
Over the past weeks, the rate of Russian casualties has slowed down despite continuous pressure and offensive operations in the Donbas. This suggests two things: First, the Russian commanders are taking a more cautious approach to their offensive operations, fully utilizing combined arms warfare to achieve their goals; and second, the Ukrainian forces are running out of combat power or ammunition — and this is expected after six months of war against the Russian military. Recent reports from the ground suggest that both of these factors are true, and that the fatigue of warfare is catching up on both sides.
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.
On Tuesday, Ukrainian forces continued to inflict the heaviest casualties in the direction of Donetsk City.
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