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Russian forces continue to fail in the Donbas

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It has been 371 days since the Russian invasion began. On Wednesday, the Russian forces continue to push in the Donbas in search of a breakthrough.

Repeated assaults, minimal progress

The Russian commanders continue to dedicate troops and resources in the large-scale offensive in the Donbas. However, the progress of the Russian forces is minimal, despite the extremely heavy casualties. Since the new year started, the Russian forces have been averaging about 500 casualties (killed and wounded) a day. On days at the highest spectrum of casualties, the Russian forces have lost more than 1,000 troops.

The situation in the Donbas is tense. (ISW)

Over the past 24 hours, Russian troops have made some tactical gains north of Bakhmut. The fighting is now taking place in the suburbs of the Ukrainian town. For the past several weeks, the Russian military has been trying to cut off the two major lines of communication and supply that lead into the town and encircle the Ukrainian defenders.

In the east, the Russian forces continued with their local assaults in the vicinity of Svatove and Kreminna, where they have made some advances. The Ukrainian military has been trying to reach Svatove through Kreminna since September.

In the south, the situation has remained the same. Both sides are getting ready for large-scale operations.

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.

Ukrainian national guard units during training in 2015. (Ukrainian 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 Wednesday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense is claiming the following Russian casualties:

  • 149,890 Russian troops killed (approximately three times that number wounded and captured)
  • 6,638 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles destroyed
  • 5,257 vehicles and fuel tanks
  • 3,395 tanks
  • 2,393 artillery pieces
  • 2,055 tactical unmanned aerial systems
  • 873 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses
  • 479 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 Wednesday, 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.

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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.

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