It has been 96 days since the Russian invasion began. On Monday, the Russian military is pushing to capture Severodonetsk in the Donbas, in eastern Ukraine, while the Ukrainian military is conducting a counteroffensive near Kherson and Mykolaiv, in the southeast.
Russian offensive, Ukrainian counteroffensive
The Russian forces continue to push in and around Severodonetsk in an attempt to capture the last major urban population center of the Luhansk province. The Ukrainian military, however, is also taking the initiative and is pushing in southeastern Ukraine, trying to recapture the key city of Kherson.
The late Russian gains are a result of a recent change in tactics. Now, instead of trying to conduct maneuver warfare, for which the Russian hardware and tactics are wholly inadequate, the Russian forces are advancing slowly behind a wall of long-range fires, taking one bite of Ukrainian territory at a time. Should the Russian military be able to sustain this approach, and the Ukrainian forces not be reinforced with countermeasures, especially long-range fires, it is likely that the Russian force will be able to take much of Donbas.
The Russian military is also moving more forces and weapon systems to the frontlines. Logistics has been a sore point for Russian commanders throughout the war. But the shorter lines of supply that they have in eastern Ukraine means that the Russian commanders can replenish or move around forces more easily than before.
“As part of the logistical support and replenishment of the units that suffered casualties, russian [sic] enemy moved more than 250 weapons and military equipment to the temporarily occupied settlements. In order to increase the efficiency of the transfer of troops and equipment, the enemy rebuilt the railway bridge near the city of Kupyansk,” the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense stated in one of its daily operational updates.
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 much of the rest of the 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.
As of Monday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense is claiming the following Russian casualties:
- 30,350 Russian troops killed (approximately three times that number wounded and captured)
- 3,282 armored personnel carriers destroyed
- 2,258 vehicles and fuel tanks
- 1,349 tanks
- 643 artillery pieces
- 507 tactical unmanned aerial systems
- 207 fighter, attack, and transport jets
- 205 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS)
- 174 attack and transport helicopters
- 118 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses
- 93 anti-aircraft batteries
- 48 special equipment platforms, such as bridging equipment
- 13 boats and cutters
- four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems
Over the past few days, the rate of Russian casualties has slowed down significantly despite continuous pressure and offensive operations in the Donbas. This suggests two things: First, that Russian commanders are taking a more cautious approach to their offensive operations and fully utilizing combined arms warfare to achieve their goals; and second, that 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.
For most of last week, 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 that the Russian military is trying to surround, and Lyman, where the Russian military suffered casualties.
On Monday, the location of the heaviest casualties shifted again westwards toward the area of Zaporizhzhia as a result of a Ukrainian counteroffensive there. One of Europe’s largest nuclear plants is located in the area.
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