It has been 78 days since the Russian invasion began. On Thursday, the Ukrainian military is pressing with its topical counterattacks, pushing the Russian forces back and frustrating their advance.
There has been no major Russian advance in the Donbas. The Russian forces are using heavy artillery barrages to stop or push the Ukrainian forces back, but they lack the ability and numbers to capture and hold significant parts of new territory because the Ukrainians are now using their own long-range fires.
Ukrainian counterattacks around Kharkiv
In its daily update on the war, the British Ministry of Defense focused on the Ukrainian counterattacks around Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city.
“Ukrainian forces are continuing to counter-attack to the north of Kharkiv, recapturing several towns and villages towards the Russian border. Russia’s prioritisation of operations in the Donbas has left elements deployed in the Kharkiv Oblast vulnerable to the mobile, and highly motivated, Ukrainian counter-attacking force,” the British Military Intelligence assessed.
The Ukrainian military has pushed the Russian forces more than 40 miles back and is now approaching Russian territory. Although it is highly unlikely that the Ukrainian military would opt to physically venture within Russian territory — for example, Belgorod — because that might give a reason for the Kremlin to escalate the war further.
However, the Ukrainian military could use long-range fires to strike supply lines and logistical hubs within Russia.
“Despite Russia’s success in encircling Kharkiv in the initial stages of the conflict, it has reportedly withdrawn units from the region to reorganise and replenish its forces following heavy losses. Once reconstituted, these forces will likely deploy to the eastern bank of the Siverskyi Donets River, forming a blocking force to protect the western flank of Russia’s main force concentration and main supply routes for operations in the vicinity of Izium,” the British Military Intelligence added.
The fact that the Russian military has abandoned its plans to capture Kharkiv, which was one of its main objectives for both the first and second phases of the war, is an indication of how poorly the war is going for Moscow and how badly the Russian military has fared.
“The withdrawal of Russian forces from the Kharkiv Oblast is a tacit recognition of Russia’s inability to capture key Ukrainian cities where they expected limited resistance from the population,” the British Ministry of Defense stated.
Further south, in Bilohorivka, the Ukrainian military prevented a Russian attempt to bridge the Siverskyi Donets River with long-range fires. In the process, the Ukrainian forces destroyed 6 T-72B main battle tanks, 14 BMP-1/2 armored personnel carriers, and at least 12 more various vehicles.
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 600 Russian tanks, a statement that has been reaffirmed by the British Ministry of Defense.
As of Thursday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense is claiming the following Russian casualties:
- 26,650 Russian troops killed (approximately three times that number wounded and captured)
- 2,873 armored personnel carriers destroyed
- 2,019 vehicles and fuel tanks
- 1,195 tanks
- 534 artillery pieces
- 398 unmanned aerial systems
- 199 fighter, attack, and transport jets
- 191 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS)
- 161 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