It has been 286 days since the Russian invasion began. On Tuesday, the Ukrainian military is dealing with the aftermath of a strike deep within Russia.
According to a Ukrainian official, Ukrainian drones with guidance from special operations troops struck Russian strategic bombers’ bases in Engels and Ryazan, hundreds of miles inside Russia. The attacks damaged at least two Tu-95 Bear strategic bombers and killed three Russian troops, according to the Kremlin which added that the Ukrainian drones were intercepted and that the damage and casualties were a result of the drones’ falling wreckage.
Russian missile attacks
In response to the Ukrainian special operations raid, the Russian military gave its now standard response: missile strikes against Ukrainian urban centers and critical infrastructure. Moscow launched over 100 ballistic and cruise missiles mainly against the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, with some missiles targeting Odesa, the country’s third-largest city and biggest port, and Zaporizhzhia, which is close to the frontlines.
The Ukrainian General Staff stated that it intercepted 70 missiles before they hit their targets. Ukrainian air defenses are in a much better state now than they were at the beginning of the war. The U.S. and NATO have sent Kyiv several advanced systems, including the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS), which has a 100 percent interception rate, according to the Pentagon.
Meanwhile, on the ground, the Ukrainian forces continue with their counteroffensive in the east while the Russian military is trying to breach the Ukrainian defenses around Bakhmut in the south of the Donbas.
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:
- 91,690 Russian troops killed (approximately three times that number wounded and captured)
- 5,900 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles destroyed
- 4,497 vehicles and fuel tanks
- 2,924 tanks
- 1,914 artillery pieces
- 1,582 tactical unmanned aerial systems
- 280 fighter, attack, and transport jets
- 395 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS)
- 264 attack and transport helicopters
- 531 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses
- 211 anti-aircraft batteries
- 163 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 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: Reportedly, the aftermath of the Ukrainian long-range strike against Engels-2 Air Base – a Tu-95MS strategic bomber can be seen covered in fire-fighting foam next to an impact and scotch mark. (Twitter via @Ukraine Weapons Tracker)
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