It has been 85 days since the Russian invasion began. On Thursday, the Russian military is still trying to achieve a breakthrough in eastern Ukraine. Fierce fighting is taking place in the Donbas as both sides seek to gain the initiative.
War in the Donbas
In its daily estimate of the war, the Institute for the Study of War stated that the Russian military is preparing for a major assault on Severodonetsk in an attempt to break the Ukrainian defenses.
Meanwhile, there is still some fighting going on in the Azovstal steelworks plant in Mariupol. Over the past few days, hundreds of Ukrainian fighters have surrendered. But it seems that others are willing to fight to the end.
“Russian forces are continuing to inflict air and artillery strikes on the Azovstal Steel Plant, indicating that a remnant of Ukrainian defense is still in the plant despite evacuations over the last few days. Russian occupying authorities are reportedly planning to level the Azovstal Steel Plant after completing its capture, which directly undermines the large strategic economic importance of capturing the plant,” the Institute for the Study of War assessed.
The woes of the Russian commander
In its daily estimate of the war, the British Ministry of Defense focused on the senior Russian military command. Besides suffering heavy casualties, field grade and senior Russian commanders have been getting fired for the inadequate performance of the Russian military in Ukraine.
“In recent weeks, Russia has fired senior commanders who are considered to have performed poorly during the opening stages of its invasion of Ukraine. Lieutenant General Serhiy Kisel, who commanded the elite 1st Guards Tank Army, has been suspended for his failure to capture Kharkiv. Vice Admiral Igor Osipov, who commanded Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, has also likely been suspended following the sinking of the cruiser Moskva in April. Russian Chief of the General Staff Valeriy Gerasimov likely remains in post, but it is unclear whether he retains the confidence of President Putin,” the British Military Intelligence assessed.
Reports suggest that Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin were fed bad intelligence from the Russian military and intelligence services, respectively on the state of Russian military capabilities and those of Ukraine,
“A culture of cover-ups and scape-goating is probably prevalent within the Russian military and security system. Many officials involved in the invasion of Ukraine will likely be increasingly distracted by efforts to avoid personal culpability for Russia’s operational set-backs. This will likely place further strain on Russia’s centralised model of command and control, as officers increasingly seek to defer key decisions to their superiors. It will be difficult for Russia to regain the initiative under these conditions,” the British Ministry of Defense added.
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 the rest of the Ukrainian claims.
As of Thursday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense is claiming the following Russian casualties:
- 28,500 Russian troops killed (approximately three times that number wounded and captured)
- 3,063 armored personnel carriers destroyed
- 2,157 vehicles and fuel tanks
- 1,254 tanks
- 595 artillery pieces
- 455 unmanned aerial systems
- 203 fighter, attack, and transport jets
- 199 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS)
- 167 attack and transport helicopters
- 103 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses
- 93 anti-aircraft batteries
- 43 special equipment platforms, such as bridging equipment
- 13 boats and cutters
- four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems
For the second day in a row, most of the latest Russian casualties took place around the Slovyansk, Kryvyi Rih, and Zaporizhzhia areas, reflecting the heavy fighting that is going on there.
Read more from Sandboxx News
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- The 4 reasons why the Russian military is failing in Ukraine
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- Mozart Group: How American veterans are helping Ukraine win
- Your daily tactical update on Ukraine (May 18)
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