It has been 84 days since the Russian invasion began. On Wednesday, the Russian military is trying to achieve a breakthrough in eastern Ukraine. Fighting in the Donbas close to the strategic city of Izium continues.
The war in the Donbas
The main effort of the Russian campaign is in eastern Ukraine, where it is trying to capture and hold onto Ukrainian territory.
But that effort contains one subordinate main effort, which is the attempt to encircle Ukrainian troops between Izium, Donetsk, and Luhansk. Should the Russian military achieve that, it would trap a large number of Ukrainian units. However, it is highly doubtful that the Russians have the necessary combat power to pull it off in a timely enough manner that would deny the Ukrainians the opportunity to pull back.
In addition, the Russian campaign contains three supporting efforts: in Mariupol, around Kharkiv, and near Kherson.
Although the Ukrainian forces in Kharkiv have pushed the Russians back to the border, the Russian military maintains a strong presence in the area. The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense assesses that Moscow does so as a way to tie down Ukrainian forces.
“To demonstrate the presence and restraint of units of the Defence Forces of Ukraine, the enemy continues to maintain units of the Armed Forces of the russian [sic] federation in the border areas of Bryansk and Kursk regions. In some areas, russian [sic] enemy strengthens the system of air defence and engineering equipment positions,” the Ukrainian General Staff stated.
The battle for Mariupol
In its daily estimate of the war, the British Ministry of Defense focused on the battle of Mariupol and what that really costed to the Russian military. The siege went on for almost three months, tying down significant Russian forces that could have been used elsewhere. At one point, the Russian military had committed about 12 battalion tactical groups into the siege, which would amount to approximately 12,000 men.
“Despite Russian forces having encircled Mariupol for over ten weeks, staunch Ukrainian resistance delayed Russia’s ability to gain full control over the city. This frustrated its early attempts to capture a key city and inflicted costly personnel losses amongst Russian forces,” the British Military Intelligence stated.
The Russian military suffered significant losses in and around Mariupol, even losing several of its prized special operations units.
“In attempting to overcome Ukrainian resistance, Russia has made significant use of auxiliary personnel. This includes a deployment of Chechen forces, likely consisting of several thousand fighters primarily concentrated in the Mariupol and Luhansk sectors,” the British Ministry of Defense added.
“These forces likely consist of both individual volunteers and National Guard units, which are routinely dedicated to securing the rule of Chechen Republic Head, Ramazan Kadyrov. Kadyrov likely maintains close personal oversight of the deployment, while his cousin Adam Delimkhanov has likely acted as the Chechen field commander in Mariupol,” the British Military Intelligence stated.
“The combat deployment of such disparate personnel demonstrates Russia’s significant resourcing problems in Ukraine and is likely contributing to a disunited command which continues to hamper Russia’s operations,” the British Military Intelligence assessed.
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 Wednesday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense is claiming the following Russian casualties:
- 28,300 Russian troops killed (approximately three times that number wounded and captured)
- 3,043 armored personnel carriers destroyed
- 2,137 vehicles and fuel tanks
- 1,251 tanks
- 586 artillery pieces
- 441 unmanned aerial systems
- 202 fighter, attack, and transport jets
- 199 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS)
- 167 attack and transport helicopters
- 102 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses
- 91 anti-aircraft batteries
- 43 special equipment platforms, such as bridging equipment
- 13 boats and cutters
- four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems
Most of the latest Russian casualties took place around the Slovyansk, Kryvyi Rih, and Zaporizhzhia areas.
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