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The war in Ukraine continues

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It has been 295 days since the Russian invasion began. On Thursday, the Ukrainian military continues to defend against the Russian assaults against Bakhmut in the Donbas. Moreover, the Ukrainian forces are pushing in the east.

A tour of the battlefield

In the past 24 hours, nothing really changed on the battlefield. The Ukrainian forces continue to push in the east toward Kreminna on their way to Svatove, a key logistical hub. The Ukrainians have managed to capture some settlements, but they haven’t been able to replicate the lighting speed they displayed in the fall.

Meanwhile, the Russian forces continue to dig in in anticipation of the Ukrainian counteroffensive. The Russian military has been creating extensive defensive networks, comprised of trench systems and anti-tank obstacles, in order to prevent another humiliating defeat.

The situation in the east. (ISW)

In the Donbas, the Russian forces are still trying to achieve a breakthrough and capture Bakhmut. However, the Ukrainian forces are putting up fierce resistance and are keeping them at bay.

In the south, the Ukrainians continue to attack the Russian forces with long-range fires.

Russian casualties

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 1,500 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.

Soldiers with the Ukrainian Land Forces conduct defensive tactics on counterattack Apr. 1, 2016, during a section live-fire exercise at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center near Yavoriv, Ukraine as part of Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine. Each JMTG-U rotation will consist of nine weeks of training where Ukrainian soldiers will learn defensive combat skills needed to increase Ukraine’s capacity for self-defense. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Adriana M. Diaz-Brown, 10th Press Camp Headquarters)

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 Thursday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense is claiming the following Russian casualties:

  • 96,590 Russian troops killed (approximately three times that number wounded and captured)
  • 5,946 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles destroyed
  • 4,563 vehicles and fuel tanks
  • 2,975 tanks
  • 1,943 artillery pieces
  • 1,644 tactical unmanned aerial systems
  • 281 fighter, attack, and transport jets
  • 406 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS)
  • 264 attack and transport helicopters
  • 592 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses
  • 211 anti-aircraft batteries
  • 172 special equipment platforms, such as bridging equipment
  • 16 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 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.

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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.