It has been 372 days since the Russian invasion began. On Thursday, the fighting continues on the ground with heavy combat in and around Bakhmut in the Donbas.
Bakhmut under siege
In the Donbas, the Russian forces have entered Bakhmut and there is heavy fighting on the streets of the Ukrainian town. The Russian troops have also advanced to the north and south of the town and have the Ukrainian lines of communication and supply within range of their weapons.
The battle for Bakhmut is the longest of the war so far; since the summer, the Russian forces have been trying to capture this militarily unimportant urban center.
In the east, the fighting along the Svatove-Kreminna line continues with no respite. The Russian forces launch daily small-scale offensive operations against the Ukrainian positions in an attempt to reclaim lost territory. The Ukrainians are holing on and getting ready for their own large-scale counteroffensive later in the year.
In southern Ukraine the situation remains the same. The Russian forces have been fortifying their positions since September, while the Ukrainians are using long-range fires to harass their adversaries.
Every day, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense is providing an update on its 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 close to 1,700 Russian tanks (which amounts to more tanks than the combined armor capabilities of France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom) and more than 8,300 weapon systems of all types; this assessment has been confirmed by the British Ministry of Defense.
The same independent verification exists for most of the other Ukrainian claims. 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.
In November, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley shared the U.S. military’s assessment that the Russian military has lost way more than 100,000 troops so far in the war. But U.S. officials revised this assessment in February. According to U.S. intelligence, Russia has lost almost 200,000 troops killed or wounded in the conflict so far.
Yet, proper casualty figures are still hard to compute and verify given the fog and friction of war.
As of Thursday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense is claiming the following Russian casualties:
- 150,605 Russian troops killed (approximately three times that number wounded and captured)
- 6,658 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles destroyed
- 5,264 vehicles and fuel tanks
- 3,397 tanks
- 2,398 artillery pieces
- 2,058 tactical unmanned aerial systems
- 873 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses
- 480 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS)
- 300 fighter, attack, and transport jets
- 288 attack and transport helicopters
- 247 anti-aircraft batteries
- 230 special equipment platforms, such as bridging equipment
- 18 boats and cutters
- four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems
On Thursday, Ukrainian forces continued to inflict the heaviest in the direction of Bakhmut, which is located in the south of the Donbas, and along the Kreminna-Svatove line in the east.
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.