It has been 75 days since the Russian invasion began. On Monday, the Russian forces are still trying to destroy the Azovstal steelworks plant, the last bastion of Ukrainian defense in Mariupol.
The Ukrainian military has launched two two-pronged counterattacks in the north and south of the battlefield in an attempt to frustrate the renewed Russian offensive and recapture the key city of Kherson.
Back and forth in the east
According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, the Russian military is focusing most of its efforts in the Slobozhansky and Donetsk directions in the southeast of Ukraine. In Slobozhansky, the Russian military is regrouping, replenishing, and rearming its battalion tactical groups most likely for a renewed offensive in the area.
The Ukrainian military is conducting counteroffensives in the areas around Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, in the north and Kherson in the south. The Ukrainian forces are attacking with increased capabilities, including the M-777 155mm Howitzer, of which the U.S. military has sent Ukraine 90.
The battalion tactical group is the main ground warfighting unit of the Russian military. A combined arms formation, the battalion tactical group is comprised of a combination of units, including mechanized infantry, armor, combat engineers, air defenses, artillery, and electronic warfare, and has between 800 and 1,000 troops.
As of Monday, the Pentagon assesses that there are 97 operational battalion tactical groups fighting in Ukraine, which is an increase of 4 since last week.
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 to create and maintain a land corridor between these territories and the occupied Crimea.
The air war
Although 75 days have passed since the first Russian troops invaded Ukraine, the Russian Aerospace Forces have failed to achieve air dominance over the battlefield.
According to the Pentagon, the Russian military is now averaging between 200 and 300 combat sorties every day. However, most Russian long-range strikes have taken place outside of Ukrainian air space because of the potent Ukrainian air defenses — which are aided by timely intelligence shared by the U.S. and NATO.
The Ukrainian Air Force, bolstered by shipments of spare parts from friendly countries, is still flying combat sorties despite its numerical and qualitative inferiority compared to its Russian adversaries.
Over the weekend, two Ukrainian Air Force Su-27 Flanker air superiority fighter jets conducted a low-level bombing run on the Russian positions on the Snake Island, a small patch of land in the Black Sea that has been captured by the Russian military. Snake Island became famous when its Ukrainian defenders used profanities to reject an offer to surrender in the opening stages of the war.
In yet another Ukrainian air attack on the Russian positions on Snake Island, a Ukrainian Bayraktar TB-2 drone destroyed a Russian Mi-8 transport helicopter while it was unloading supplies for the Russian garrison. The helicopter also allegedly carried Russian special operations forces.
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 500 Russian tanks.
As of Monday, the Ukrainian military is claiming the following:
- 25,650 Russian troops killed (approximately three times that number wounded and captured)
- 2,764 armored personnel carriers destroyed
- 1,970 vehicles and fuel tanks
- 1,145 tanks
- 513 artillery pieces
- 377 unmanned aerial systems
- 199 fighter, attack, and transport jets
- 185 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS)
- 158 attack and transport helicopters
- 94 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses
- 83 anti-aircraft batteries
- 41 special equipment platforms, such as bridging equipment
- 12 boats and cutters
- four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems