It has been 99 days since the Russian invasion began. On Thursday, the Russian forces are making more gains in the Donbas, having taken control of most of Severodonetsk.
Instead of wasting men and materiel, the Ukrainian forces withdrew from an unattainable position and allowed the Russian troops to enter the city without too much fighting.
Meanwhile, in the vicinity of Kherson, in southeast Ukraine, the Ukrainian forces press on with their counteroffensive, steadily making gains.
Severodonetsk and what’s next
In its daily estimate of the war, the British Ministry of Defense focused on the situation in and around Severodonetsk. The Ukrainian city has been at the center of attention over the past few days as it is the last major urban center in the Luhansk province and its capture would offer Russian President Vladimir Putin a political — but not necessarily strategic — victory.
Now, the Russian military will most likely focus on the neighboring Donetsk province. But to do that, it would have to ford the Siverskyy Donets River in force. Previous attempts at river crossing by the Russian forces failed spectacularly. In early May, a task force of mechanized Russian VDV airborne units tried to cross a river in eastern Ukraine only to suffer devastating casualties that amounted to more than 80 main battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and armored personnel carriers among other vehicles.
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 Thursday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense is claiming the following Russian casualties:
- 30,850 Russian troops killed (approximately three times that number wounded and captured)
- 3,354 armored personnel carriers destroyed
- 2,325 vehicles and fuel tanks
- 1,363 tanks
- 661 artillery pieces
- 521 tactical unmanned aerial systems
- 210 fighter, attack, and transport jets
- 207 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS)
- 175 attack and transport helicopters
- 120 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses
- 95 anti-aircraft batteries
- 51 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, 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.
For most of the last weeks, 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.
In recent days, the location of the heaviest casualties shifted again westwards toward the area of Zaporizhzhia — where there is one of Europe’s largest nuclear plants — as a result of a Ukrainian counteroffensive there. On Thursday, the Ukrainian forces inflicted the heaviest casualties in the vicinity of Bakhmut.
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