It has been 76 days since the Russian invasion began. On Tuesday, the Russian forces are focusing their efforts on the Donbas, trying to push the Ukrainian forces back.
Meanwhile, in Mariupol, the last Ukrainian forces holed up in the Azovstal steelworks plant are still fighting, with approximately 1,000 of them remaining. Despite claims of a complete victory in the southern Ukrainian port city, Mariupol remains contested.
A moving stalemate
It’s been almost three weeks since the Russian military launched its renewed offensive in eastern Ukraine. Although the Russian forces have made some gains assisted by mass artillery fires, the frontlines have largely remained unchanged.
But, according to the Pentagon, this isn’t a stalemate.
Frustrated accounts of Russian troops from the ground suggest that in some places in the Donbas there is a force ratio of 1 to 1 on the frontline, which will make it hard — if not impossible — for either side to make any significant progress. Doctrine requires a numerical superiority of 3 to 1 for an attacker to succeed. When two militaries are fairly matched in numbers and weaponry, a way to bypass the ensuing stalemate is to achieve relative superiority at an important part of the battlefield.
For example, one of the militaries could use stealth and deception to move most of its forces to a particular, strategically important part of the battlefield and achieve a force ratio of 3 to 1 or higher despite the two forces being numerically equal on the overall battlefield.
“I would not call it a stalemate. There are literally towns and villages that are changing hands, sometimes in the course of the day or so. And we assess that the Russians continue to make incremental progress moving down from the north,” Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said in a press briefing.
The main Russian axis of advance is coming from Izium in the north and is pushing down to Donbas in the south in an attempt to cut off the Ukrainian forces there and either force them to retreat or trap them inside. Whether the Russian military has the capability and supplies to trap and destroy large Ukrainian formations is another thing.
The Russian advance, however, is slow and incremental, frustrated by Ukrainian resistance and counterattacks.
“So, no, we would not call it a stalemate in the classic sense that just everything is frozen. It’s not frozen. There’s a lot of artillery going back and forth. There’s a lot of movement back and forth. It’s just that when you take two steps back in the aggregate, you don’t see the Russians really making a lot of progress over the course of time. We still believe that they are behind their own schedule, and then what progress they’re making is very limited in terms of just geographic reach,” Kirby.
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.
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 500 Russian tanks, a statement that has been reaffirmed by the British Ministry of Defense.
As of Tuesday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense is claiming the following Russian casualties:
- 26,600 Russian troops killed (approximately three times that number wounded and captured)
- 2,808 armored personnel carriers destroyed
- 1,980 vehicles and fuel tanks
- 1,170 tanks
- 519 artillery pieces
- 380 unmanned aerial systems
- 199 fighter, attack, and transport jets
- 185 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS)
- 158 attack and transport helicopters
- 94 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses
- 87 anti-aircraft batteries
- 41 special equipment platforms, such as bridging equipment
- 12 boats and cutters
- four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems
Read more from Sandboxx News
- Your daily tactical update on Ukraine (May 9)
- Your daily tactical update on Ukraine (May 6)
- Mozart Group: How American veterans are helping Ukraine win
- Western officials think Putin may formally declare war on Ukraine on May 9, Russia’s Victory Day, making his ‘special military operation’ bloodier
- Switchblade drones: Giving Ukraine an edge on the battlefield