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Russia’s new large-scale offensive is not going well

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It has been 358 days since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. On Thursday, the Russian forces are pushing hard all across Ukraine in an attempt to achieve an operational breakthrough.

In search of an operational breakthrough

The Russian military has started its large-scale offensive, but it isn’t going well. Over the past few days, the Russian forces have lost thousands of troops with very little to show.

In the Donbas, the Russian forces have gained some ground to the north of Bakhmut. The Ukrainian defenders are still in control of the town, however, and continue to resist fiercely. Farther south in the Donbas, the Russian attacks in the direction of Vuhledar didn’t achieve any gains, with Moscow losing almost two brigades of troops in just two days.

In the east, the Russian forces are trying to dislodge the Ukrainian forces from the outskirts of Kreminna but without any success. The two sides have been fighting for control of the city since September.

In the south, the situation has remained fairly similar. The Russian forces continue to expand their fortification in anticipation of a Ukrainian counteroffensive.

Related: General Mark Milley says Russia has already ‘lost’ in Ukraine

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 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.

Related: Russia’s new T-14 Armata tank is seen in Ukraine for the first time

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:

  • 140,460 Russian troops killed (approximately three times that number wounded and captured)
  • 6,517 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles destroyed
  • 5,167 vehicles and fuel tanks
  • 3,296 tanks
  • 2,306 artillery pieces
  • 2,012 tactical unmanned aerial systems
  • 857 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses
  • 466 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS)
  • 298 fighter, attack, and transport jets
  • 287 attack and transport helicopters
  • 239 anti-aircraft batteries
  • 219 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 howitzer in Ukraine. (Twitter)

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Stavros Atlamazoglou

Greek Army veteran (National service with 575th Marines Battalion and Army HQ). Johns Hopkins University. You will usually find him on the top of a mountain admiring the view and wondering how he got there.