It has been 110 days since the Russian invasion began. On Monday, the situation in the Donbas has remained largely unchanged.
The fighting goes on
There is still heavy fighting going on in and around Severodonetsk. The Russian military controls most of the city, but the Ukrainian defenders are holding on in the Azot industrial sector. The Russian forces are now targeting bridges in the Siverskyi Donets River in an attempt to cut off the Ukrainian supply lines.
“Russian forces continued ground assaults in and around Severodonetsk under the cover of heavy artillery fire but have yet to establish full control of the city as of June 12. Ukrainian troops maintain control of the Azot industrial zone. Head of the Luhansk Regional State Administration Serhiy Haidai stated that Russian forces destroyed two bridges across the Siverskyi Donets River between Severodonetsk and Lysychansk and are heavily shelling the third,” the Institute for the Study of War stated in its latest assessment of the war.
But such a tactic has all the potential to backfire since the Russian forces will have to ford the same river in the future if they manage to advance, and the Russian military has displayed abhorrent bridge-crossing capabilities thus far in the war. A few weeks ago, the Russian forces lost approximately 80 tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and armored personnel carriers in an attempt to cross a river.
The Russian military is also trying to advance from the southwest of Severodonetsk in an attempt to cut off the Ukrainian defenders.
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.
Furthermore, more recent reports that are citing Western intelligence officials indicate that the Russian military has suffered up to 20,000 fatalities in the war so far.
It is very hard to verify the actual numbers unless one is on the ground. However, after adjusting for the fog of war and other factors the Western official numbers are fairly close to the Ukrainian claims.
As of Monday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense is claiming the following Russian casualties:
- 32,300 Russian troops killed (approximately three times that number wounded and captured)
- 3,492 armored personnel carriers destroyed
- 2,460 vehicles and fuel tanks
- 1,432 tanks
- 718 artillery pieces
- 585 tactical unmanned aerial systems
- 212 fighter, attack, and transport jets
- 226 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS)
- 178 attack and transport helicopters
- 125 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses
- 96 anti-aircraft batteries
- 53 special equipment platforms, such as bridging equipment
- 13 boats and cutters
- four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems
Over the past weeks, the rate of Russian casualties has slowed down significantly despite continuous pressure and offensive operations in the Donbas. This suggests two things: First, the Russian commanders are taking a more cautious approach to their offensive operations, fully utilizing combined arms warfare to achieve their goals; and second, 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. Recent reports from the ground suggest that both are true, and that the fatigue of warfare is catching up on both sides.
For most of the last month, 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, and Lyman.
Then the location of the heaviest casualties shifted again westwards toward the area of Zaporizhzhia —where one of Europe’s largest nuclear plants is located — as a result of a Ukrainian counteroffensive in and around the area.
On Monday, Ukrainian forces inflicted the heaviest casualties in the vicinity of Bakhmut, where the Russian forces are trying to advance and cut off Severodonetsk from the rear.
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.
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