It has been 272 days since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. On Tuesday, the Ukrainian military is creating the conditions for further advances in the east and the south while it is keeping the Russian forces in the south of the Donbas at bay.
The war goes on
In the east, the Ukrainian forces are slowly advancing toward Kreminna on their way to Svatove. Their advance has been slow and deliberate, and the two sides are exchanging heavy artillery fire.
In the south of the Donbas, the Russian private military company Wagner Group has been leading the attack on the city of Bakhmut and Avdiivka. For over four months, the Russian forces have been trying to breach the Ukrainian defenses surrounding the two cities but with little success. Moscow has captured some settlements in the vicinity of the cities but has failed to outflank and surround the Ukrainian forces.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Military Intelligence stated that the Russian intelligence agencies are planning a false flag operation against Belarusian critical infrastructure in an attempt to draw Minsk into the war.
According to the Ukrainians, the Russian intelligence agencies will strike several energy sources, including a nuclear power plant, and blame the attack on Ukraine and NATO. However, it remains highly unlikely that Belarus will enter the war because of domestic opposition.
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 1,500 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 Tuesday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense is claiming the following Russian casualties:
- 85,000 Russian troops killed (approximately three times that number wounded and captured)
- 5,827 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles destroyed
- 4,393 vehicles and fuel tanks
- 2,895 tanks
- 1,882 artillery pieces
- 1,537 tactical unmanned aerial systems
- 278 fighter, attack, and transport jets
- 395 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS)
- 261 attack and transport helicopters
- 480 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses
- 209 anti-aircraft batteries
- 161 special equipment platforms, such as bridging equipment
- 16 boats and cutters
- four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems
On Tuesday, Ukrainian forces continued to inflict the heaviest in the direction of Bakhmut, which is located in the south of the Donbas, and the vicinity of 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: President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko with Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Security Council and former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in 2008. (Russian Presidential Press and Information Office)
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