It has been 106 days since the Russian invasion began. On Thursday, the battle for Severodonetsk rages on as both sides are trying to defend their hold on the strategic Ukrainian city.
Another day in Severodonetsk
The fierce fighting in the Ukrainian city continues. The Russian military is using heavy long-range fires to push the Ukrainians back while also committing significant forces.
In its latest update of the war, the Institute for the Study of War stated that there is still street fighting going on in the city as the Russian forces are trying to gain control over the eastern parts of Severodonetsk.
“Ukrainian forces are continuing to conduct a flexible defense of Severodonetsk and are likely focusing on inflicting high casualties on Russian personnel rather than seeking to hold the entire city,” the Institute for the Study of War stated.
As the last major urban center in the Luhansk province not in Russian hands, Severodonetsk is important for both sides but for different reasons. The Russians want it to give Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin a political victory, while the Ukrainians use it to bog down and attrit the Russian military, so they can make gains elsewhere.
But the Ukrainian forces are outnumbered and outgunned, and in some areas, they are at a disadvantage of up to 20 to 1.
In the vicinity of Kherson, where the Ukrainian military has launched a counteroffensive, the Russian military is finally dedicating more attention, using long-range fires to frustrate the Ukrainian advances.
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:
- 31,700 Russian troops killed (approximately three times that number wounded and captured)
- 3,438 armored personnel carriers destroyed
- 2,421 vehicles and fuel tanks
- 1,398 tanks
- 711 artillery pieces
- 562 tactical unmanned aerial systems
- 212 fighter, attack, and transport jets
- 213 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.
The Ukrainian military is also more focused on withdrawing from unattainable positions around Severodonetsk, which also might be the reason why the Russian casualty rates have slowed down.
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, and Lyman.
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, Ukrainian forces inflicted the heaviest casualties in the vicinity of Severodonetsk, reflecting their heavy fighting in the region.
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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