It has been 113 days since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. On Thursday, the Russian forces are still trying to capture Severodonetsk, while also pressing on with the axes of advance northwest and southwest of the strategic Ukrainian city.
The situation in the Donbas
The fighting in and around Severodonetsk continues. All the bridges leading to the city have been destroyed, but the Russian military hasn’t surrounded the city. Fierce street fighting is taking place, with most of the combat situated in the Azot Chemical Plant in the industrial sector of the city.
Russian forces northwest (Izium and Lyman) are pushing toward Slovyansk but the Ukrainians are holding on. The situation in the southwest (Bakhmut) is fairly similar: the Russian military is pushing toward Lysychansk, the town after Severodonetsk, but the Ukrainians are able to stall them for the time being. And yet, a general theme of the past four weeks is that the Russian military has been advancing slowly and deliberately, not caring about casualties.
In southeast Ukraine, the Russian forces remain on the defense in the vicinity of Kherson, but the Ukrainian counteroffensive there isn’t gaining the necessary momentum to bring fast gains.
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; this assessment has been confirmed by the British Ministry of Defense.
The same independent verification exists for most of the other 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 Thursday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense is claiming the following Russian casualties:
- 32,950 Russian troops killed (approximately three times that number wounded and captured)
- 3,545 armored personnel carriers destroyed
- 2,494 vehicles and fuel tanks
- 1,449 tanks
- 729 artillery pieces
- 591 tactical unmanned aerial systems
- 213 fighter, attack, and transport jets
- 233 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS)
- 179 attack and transport helicopters
- 129 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses
- 96 anti-aircraft batteries
- 55 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 of these factors 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 Thursday, Ukrainian forces inflicted the heaviest casualties in the vicinity of Severodonetsk and 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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