It has been 112 days since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. On Wednesday, the Russian military has come very close to capturing the whole of Severodonetsk as the battle for the city nears the third week.
The circle around Severodonetsk closes
The Russian military is now in control of most of the strategic Ukrainian city and has destroyed with long-range fires the remaining bridges that connected Severodonetsk with the west of the Donbas.
However, the Ukrainian troops are still able to move men and supplies into the city as the Russian forces have failed to fully surround it.
The majority of the Ukrainian forces in Severodonetsk have found refuge in the Azot Chemical Plant.
“Russian forces are continuing to fight for control of the Azot industrial plant and have destroyed all bridges between Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, likely to isolate the remaining Ukrainian defenders within the city from critical lines of communication,” the Institute for the Study of War assessed in its latest update on the war.
Meanwhile, Russian forces northwest (Izium and Lyman) and southwest (Bakhmut) of Severodonetsk are pushing their advances in order to cut Severodonetsk from the rear.
On the other fronts, the Russian military is conducting topical counterattacks northeast of Kharkiv in an attempt to push the Ukrainian forces back as Ukrainian artillery has been able to strike targets within Russia.
In the south, the Ukrainian military presses on with its counteroffensive in the direction of Kherson and has put the Russian military on the defensive.
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 600 Russian tanks; this assessment has been confirmed by the British Ministry of Defense.
The same independent verification exists for most of the other Ukrainian claims. Only 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.
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 Wednesday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense is claiming the following Russian casualties:
- 32,750 Russian troops killed (approximately three times that number wounded and captured)
- 3,528 armored personnel carriers destroyed
- 2,485 vehicles and fuel tanks
- 1,440 tanks
- 722 artillery pieces
- 591 tactical unmanned aerial systems
- 213 fighter, attack, and transport jets
- 230 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS)
- 179 attack and transport helicopters
- 129 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses
- 96 anti-aircraft batteries
- 55 special equipment platforms, such as bridging equipment
- 13 boats and cutters
- four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems
Over the past weeks, the rate of Russian casualties has slowed down significantly 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 over three 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 the last month, 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 went on, most of the heavy fighting shifted toward the direction of Bakhmut, southeast of Slovyansk, around Severodonetsk, a key Ukrainian town, and Lyman.
Then the location of the heaviest casualties shifted again westwards toward the area of Zaporizhzhia —where one of Europe’s largest nuclear plants is located — as a result of a Ukrainian counteroffensive in and around the area.
On Wednesday, Ukrainian forces inflicted the heaviest casualties in the vicinity of Severodonetsk and Bakhmut, where the Russian forces are trying to advance and cut off Severodonetsk from the rear.
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.
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