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Despite its horrendous casualties, Russia is still trying to capture Bakhmut

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It has been 393 days since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. On Thursday, the fighting in Ukraine continues. The Russian forces are pushing hard in the Donbas but without making any significant progress over the past 24 hours.

The war goes on

Although the fighting in and around Bakhmut continues, the Russian forces have lost their momentum and their operational tempo seems to be slowing down as a result.

Wagner Group mercenaries are trying to reach the western part of the town, but the Ukrainian forces are holding their ground. The Ukrainian military is even launching localized counterattacks to push back the Russians.

The Russian forces have limited resources and pressure is increasing to commit those assets to promising operations. In terms of progress, Bakhmut is the most promising, despite the horrendous casualties the Russian forces have suffered to get where they are.

Bakhmut remains at the center of the Russian campaign in Ukraine. (ISW)

In the east, the Russian military pushed on with its limited ground attacks along the Svatove-Kreminna line of contact without much success.

In the south, the Russian military continues to work on its fortifications in anticipation of a large-scale Ukrainian counteroffensive later in the year.

Related: How American Abrams tanks devastated Russian tanks in Iraq

Russian casualties

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 almost 1,900 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.

Ukrainian rocket artillery earlier in the war. (Creative Commons)

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:

  • 168,150 Russian troops killed (approximately three times that number wounded and captured)
  • 6,898 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles destroyed
  • 5,452 vehicles and fuel tanks
  • 3,570 tanks
  • 2,608 artillery pieces
  • 2,203 tactical unmanned aerial systems
  • 909 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses
  • 511 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS)
  • 305 fighter, attack, and transport jets
  • 290 attack and transport helicopters
  • 273 air defense systems
  • 273 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.

Feature Image: Destroyed Russian equipment earlier in the war. (Ukrainian Ministry of Defense)

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Stavros Atlamazoglou

Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations and national security. He is a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ). He holds a BA from the Johns Hopkins University, an MA from the Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and is pursuing a J.D. at Boston College Law School.