It has been 93 days since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. On Friday, the Russian military continues to push in eastern Ukraine, looking for a breakthrough. Russian troops are trying to surround several Ukrainian positions, but the Ukrainian military continues to hold fast.
Fierce fighting in the Donbas
Over the past week or so, Russian commanders have changed their offensive approach, focusing on smaller goals instead of big (and difficult to pull off) envelopments. This change in tactics seems to be bearing fruits are the Russian forces are slowly moving forward.
In its daily estimate of the war, the British Ministry of Defense focused on the situation in the Donbas, and especially around the key cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk.
“Russian ground forces continue their attempt to surround Severodonetsk and Lyschansk [sic], recently capturing several villages north-west of Popasna. Russia is pressuring the Severodonetsk pocket although Ukraine retains control of multiple defended sectors, denying Russia full control of the Donbas Russia’s Southern Grouping of Forces (SGF) likely remains tasked with occupying southern Ukrainian territory,” the British Military Intelligence assessed.
Moreover, the British Ministry of Defence affirmed reports that the Russian military is moving old T-62 medium battle tanks out of storage and to the frontlines in an attempt to make up for the devastating losses it has suffered thus far in the war. Despite the numerical respite, such tanks will offer frontline Russian battalion tactical groups, their antiquated armor and weaponry will make them deathtraps.
“In recent days, Russia has likely moved 50-year-old T-62 tanks from deep storage into the SGF’s area of responsibility. The T-62s will almost certainly be particularly vulnerable to anti-tank weapons and their presence on the battlefield highlights Russia’s shortage of modern, combat-ready equipment,” the British Military Intelligence 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 Friday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense is claiming the following Russian casualties:
- 29,750 Russian troops killed (approximately three times that number wounded and captured)
- 3,246 armored personnel carriers destroyed
- 2,226 vehicles and fuel tanks
- 1,322 tanks
- 623 artillery pieces
- 503 tactical unmanned aerial systems
- 206 fighter, attack, and transport jets
- 201 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS)
- 170 attack and transport helicopters
- 115 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses
- 93 anti-aircraft batteries
- 48 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.
For most of last week, 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 direction, southeast of Slovyansk.
However, now the heaviest fighting is taking place around Severodonetsk, a key Ukrainian town that the Russian military is trying to surround, and Lyman, where the Russian military suffered the highest casualties yesterday. The Russian forces continued to suffer the most casualties around the city of Avdiivka, which is located slightly north of Donetsk.
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