It has been 331 days since the Russian invasion began. On Friday, the fighting on the ground continues in earnest against the backdrop of a new wave of military aid to Ukraine.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley flew to Germany, where NATO is holding a meeting of 50 member states and partners on the topic of further arming Ukraine. Although the West has agreed to send a plethora of weapon systems to Ukraine, Germany is refusing to send or approve the transfer from third countries of Leopard 2 main battle tanks.
The war goes on
In the east, Ukraine presses on with its counteroffensive operations along the Svatove-Kreminna line. The Russian forces are also counterattacking daily. This back-and-forth hasn’t produced any concrete territorial gains for either side but has resulted in heavy casualties for both.
The heaviest fighting continues to take place in the Donbas where the Russian forces are attacking in the direction of Soledar, Bakhmut, and Avdiivka.
Bakhmut continues to hold in the face of determined Russian assaults.
Finally, in the south, the situation remains fairly similar, with no major developments. The Russian military continues to further its fortifications, and the Ukrainian forces continue with their long-range fires interdiction campaign.
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 1,600 Russian tanks (which amounts to more tanks than the combined armor capabilities of France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom) and more than 5,300 military vehicles 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.
Furthermore, more recent reports that are citing Western intelligence officials indicate that the Russian military has suffered more than 100,000 casualties (killed and wounded) in the war so far.
In the summer, Sir Tony Radakin, the British Chief of the Defence Staff, had told the BBC that the West understands that more than 50,000 Russian troops have been killed or wounded in the conflict thus far. If we were to take the Ukrainian figures as accurate, the number mentioned by Sir Radakin is on the low side of the spectrum.
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 more than 100,000 troops so far in the war.
Yet, it is very hard to verify the actual numbers unless one is on the ground. However, after adjusting for the fog of war and other factors, the Western official numbers are fairly close to the Ukrainian claims.
As of Friday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense is claiming the following Russian casualties:
- 119,300 Russian troops killed (approximately three times that number wounded and captured)
- 6,241 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles destroyed
- 4,903 vehicles and fuel tanks
- 3,139 tanks
- 2,129 artillery pieces
- 1,886 tactical unmanned aerial systems
- 749 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses
- 442 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS)
- 287 fighter, attack, and transport jets
- 277 attack and transport helicopters
- 220 anti-aircraft batteries
- 190 special equipment platforms, such as bridging equipment
- 17 boats and cutters
- four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems
On Friday, 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: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz during a speech in 2021. (Photo by Michael Lucan/Wikimedia Commons)
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