It has been 212 days since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. On Friday, the Ukrainian military is pushing in the east in an attempt to breach through the Russian defenders along the Oskil River.
Fighting along the Oskil river
Although the blitz phase of the Ukrainian counteroffensive is over, the fighting in the east continues unabated. The Ukrainian forces have consolidated their vast gains and have been pushing the Russian forces alongside the Oskil River in the Kharkiv province. Ukrainian units have secured several bridgeheads on the east bank of the river and are constantly reinforcing them.
The Russian military tried to turn the Oskil River into a solid defensive position to hold the Ukrainian forces but with mixed success. If the Ukrainian forces manage to breach through the Russian defenses along the river, the Russian forces in the east and in the north of the Donbas will find themselves in a very difficult position.
In the Donbas, the Ukrainians are pushing around Lyman, trying to liberate the city and keep the Russian forces off balance.
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 1,100 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.
As of Friday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense is claiming the following Russian casualties:
- 56,060 Russian troops killed (approximately three times that number wounded and captured)
- 4,796 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles destroyed
- 3,659 vehicles and fuel tanks
- 2,254 tanks
- 1,355 artillery pieces
- 950 tactical unmanned aerial systems
- 254 fighter, attack, and transport jets
- 326 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS)
- 219 attack and transport helicopters
- 240 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses
- 170 anti-aircraft batteries
- 126 special equipment platforms, such as bridging equipment
- 15 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 Friday, Ukrainian forces continued to inflict the heaviest casualties north of Donetsk City, where the Russian military persists in launching futile assaults on the Ukrainian defenses, and in the direction of Kramatorsk, which is located in the central 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: A Ukrainian Army soldier raises the Ukrainian flag in Pripyat, an abandoned city in northern Ukraine, on April 2022. (Ukrainian Ministry of Defense)