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Your daily tactical update on Ukraine (May 23)

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It has been 89 days since the Russian invasion began. On Monday, the Russian and Ukrainian forces are engaged in heavy fighting in the Donbas as both sides are trying to achieve their objectives.

Most of the fighting is taking place in the Severodonetsk area which is one of the Russian military’s most pressing tactical priority targets in eastern Ukraine.

The battlefield situation as of Monday according to the British Military Intelligence. (UK MoD)

Using Russian vehicles to decipher goals

Over the weekend, the British Ministry of Defense focused on the BMP-T Terminator tank support vehicle that the Russian military has been employing in Ukraine. The Russian military has only one operational company with BMP-T Terminator tank support vehicles, and it has deployed it in the Severodonetsk area.

“Russia’s only operational company of BMP-T Terminator tank support vehicles has likely been deployed to the Severodonetsk axis of the Donbas offensive. Their presence suggests that the Central Grouping of Forces (CGF) is involved in this attack, which is the only formation fielding this vehicle. CGF previously suffered heavy losses while failing to break through to eastern Kyiv in the first phase of the invasion,” the British Military Intelligence stated.

First developed for the Aghan and Chechen war, tank support vehicles, such as the BMP-T Terminator, were designed to provide dedicated protection to Russian main battle tanks.

“The Severodonetsk area remains one of Russia’s immediate tactical priorities. However, with a maximum of ten Terminators deployed they are unlikely to have a significant impact on the campaign,” the British Military Intelligence assessed.

The Russian military has suffered devastating losses in Ukraine, both in terms of troops and materiel. Armor and mechanized infantry battalion tactical groups have lost thousands of tanks, armored personnel carriers, and infantry fighting vehicles.

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.

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 600 Russian tanks, a statement that has been reaffirmed by the British Ministry of Defense. Same independent verification exists for the rest of the Ukrainian claims.

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

  • 29,200 Russian troops killed (approximately three times that number wounded and captured)
  • 3,166 armored personnel carriers destroyed
  • 2,206 vehicles and fuel tanks
  • 1,293 tanks
  • 604 artillery pieces
  • 476 tactical unmanned aerial systems
  • 204 fighter, attack, and transport jets
  • 201 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS)
  • 170 attack and transport helicopters
  • 110 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses
  • 93 anti-aircraft batteries
  • 43 special equipment platforms, such as bridging equipment
  • 13 boats and cutters
  • four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems

For most of last week, the latest Russian military suffered the greatest casualties around the Slovyansk, Kryvyi Rih, and Zaporizhzhia areas, reflecting the heavy fighting that was going on there. However, now the heavy fighting has shifted toward the direction of Bahmut, southeast of Slovyansk in eastern Ukraine, where the Russian military continues to take the most casualties.

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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.