It has been 79 days since the Russian invasion began. On Friday, the Russian forces continue to search for a breakthrough in the Donbas, while the Ukrainian military persists with topical counterattacks in an attempt to frustrate the Russian plans and reclaim lost territory.
The last Ukrainian defenders in the Azovstal steelworks plant in Mariupol continue to hold on against fierce Russian aerial bombardment and ground assaults. Diplomatic attempts to relieve the Ukrainian forces have repeatedly failed.
The situation in the Donbas
In its daily update on the war, the British Ministry of Defense assessed that the Russian military continues to invest significant forces south of Kharkiv at Izium in an attempt to encircle the Ukrainian forces located within the Joint Forces Operation area in the Donbas.
“Russia is investing significant effort in the vicinity of Izium and Severodonetsk in an attempt to achieve a breakthrough towards Sloviansk and Kramatorsk. The primary objective on this axis is to envelop Ukrainian forces in the Joint Forces Operation area, isolating them from support or reinforcement by units in the west of the country,” the British Ministry of Defense stated.
The Russian military has been heavily shelling Ukrainian forces north of Kharkiv. This suggests that the Russian leadership was forced to reallocate long-range fires from the Donbas in the south in an attempt to stop the Ukrainian counteroffensives in the Kharkiv area that have brought Ukrainian troops within a few miles of the Russian border.
In an attempt to achieve their objective in the region, the Russian military tried to ford the Siverskyi Donets River near Severodonetsk. The attempt failed spectacularly, with the Russian forces losing an astounding number of tanks, armored personnel carriers, and infantry fighting vehicles (more than 70) from Ukrainian long-range fires.
“Ukrainian forces successfully prevented an attempted Russian river crossing in the Donbas. Images indicate that during the crossing of the Siverskyi Donets river west of Severodonetsk, Russia lost significant armoured manoeuvre elements of at least one Battalion Tactical Group as well as the deployed pontoon bridging equipment,” the British Military Intelligence added.
The fact that the Russian military can’t conduct a river crossing with success suggests that it doesn’t have the capability to mount effective maneuver warfare operations in eastern Ukraine.
“Conducting river crossings in a contested environment is a highly risky manoeuvre and speaks to the pressure the Russian commanders are under to make progress in their operations in eastern Ukraine. Russian forces have failed to make any significant advances despite concentrating forces in this area after withdrawing and redeploying units from the Kyiv and Chernihiv Oblasts,” the British Ministry of Defense stated.
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. Same independent verification exists for the rest of the Ukrainian claims.
As of Friday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense is claiming the following Russian casualties:
- 26,900 Russian troops killed (approximately three times that number wounded and captured)
- 2,900 armored personnel carriers destroyed
- 2,042 vehicles and fuel tanks
- 1,205 tanks
- 542 artillery pieces
- 398 unmanned aerial systems
- 200 fighter, attack, and transport jets
- 193 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS)
- 162 attack and transport helicopters
- 95 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses
- 88 anti-aircraft batteries
- 41 special equipment platforms, such as bridging equipment
- 12 boats and cutters
- four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems
Most of the latest Russian casualties took place around the Kurakhiv area.
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