It has been 320 days since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. On Monday, the Russian military is shifting the weight of its operations from the Donbas to the east in an attempt to halt the Ukrainian advance in the direction of Kreminna.
From Bakhmut to Kreminna
The heaviest fighting is taking place in the east along the Kreminna-Svatove line of contact. Since September, the Ukrainian forces have been trying to reach Svatove through Kreminna. The former is an important logistical hub, and its liberation would seriously hinder Russian operations in the area and in the Donbas too.
According to Ukrainian officials, the Russian military has transferred several battalions from the Donbas and the Battle for Bakhmut to the east around Kreminna.
The Russian offensive against Bakhmut has been losing steam for some weeks now, and it seems that the Russian high command has understood that.
In the south, nothing has changed as both sides are unable to cross the Dnipro River and take the fight to the other side. The Russian military continues to establish its defensive positions on the eastern bank of the river, while the Ukrainian forces continue to set the conditions for the eventual amphibious operation that will get them across.
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 Monday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense is claiming the following Russian casualties:
- 111,760 Russian troops killed (approximately three times that number wounded and captured)
- 6,147 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles destroyed
- 4,809 vehicles and fuel tanks
- 3,080 tanks
- 2,069 artillery pieces
- 1,856 tactical unmanned aerial systems
- 723 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses
- 434 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS)
- 285 fighter, attack, and transport jets
- 275 attack and transport helicopters
- 217 anti-aircraft batteries
- 183 special equipment platforms, such as bridging equipment
- 16 boats and cutters
- four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems
On Monday, Ukrainian forces continued to inflict the heaviest in the direction of Bakhmut, which is located in the south of the Donbas, and Lyman, which is located in the northeast of the Donbas.
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: Ukrainian national guard forces counterattack against Russian-backed separatists in 2015. (National Guard of Ukraine)
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