It has been 94 days since the Russian invasion began. On Saturday, the Russian military continues to make some gains in the Donbas, pushing back the Ukrainian forces.
Heavy fighting in the Donbas
In its daily estimate of the war, the British Ministry of Defense focused on the movements of the Russian military in the Donbas.
“By 27 May, Russian forces had likely captured most of the town of Lyman, in the north of Donetsk Oblast, in what is likely a preliminary operation for the next stage of Russia’s Donbas offensive. Lyman is strategically important because it is the site of a major railway junction, and also gives access to important rail and road bridges over the Siverskyy [sic] Donets River,” the British Ministry of Defense stated.
The Russian forces will likely try another fording of the strategic river in eastern Ukraine. However, given that they lost over 80 tanks, armored, personnel carriers, and infantry fighting vehicles in the last attempt, Russian commanders will be wary of trying the same approach.
“In the coming days, Russian units in the area are likely to prioritise forcing a crossing of the river. For now, Russia’s main effort likely remains 40 km to the east, around the Sieverodonetsk pocket but a bridgehead near Lyman would give Russia an advantage in the potential next phase of the Donbas offensive, when it will likely seek to advance on key Ukrainian-held cities deeper in Donetsk Oblast, Sloviansk and Kramatorsk,” the British Military Intelligence assessed.
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. The same independent verification exists for the rest of the Ukrainian claims. Only recently the Pentagon acknowledged that the Russian military has lost thousands of combat vehicles of all types and dozens of aircraft.
As of Saturday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense is claiming the following Russian casualties:
- 30,000 Russian troops killed (approximately three times that number wounded and captured)
- 3,258 armored personnel carriers destroyed
- 2,226 vehicles and fuel tanks
- 1,330 tanks
- 628 artillery pieces
- 503 tactical unmanned aerial systems
- 207 fighter, attack, and transport jets
- 203 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS)
- 174 attack and transport helicopters
- 116 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—and this is expected after over three months of war against the Russian military.
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, and around Kryvyi Rih.
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