The situation in the besieged city of Mariupol in southern Ukraine is getting dire as civilians are unable to evacuate the area because of the heavy shelling; diplomatic efforts to create humanitarian corridors have repeatedly failed.
When “Blitzkrieg” Gives Way to Blitzing
When he ordered his forces to invade Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin was envisioning a blitzkrieg campaign that would have brought Ukraine to its knee with a few days. However, from the first days of the war, it was apparent that the Russian military wasn’t prepared for the largest war in Europe since World War Two.
Not only was the Russian military ill-prepared for the invasion, but the Ukrainian resistance has also outperformed even the most hopeful estimates. As a result, more than two weeks into the war, the Russian “blitzkrieg” was given way to a blitzing of Ukrainian cities in an attempt to bomb them to submission.
But Russian forces continue to suffer high casualties, raising questions about the sustainability of Moscow’s war effort.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Thursday, Ukrainian forces have killed, wounded, or captured approximately 12,000 Russian troops, destroyed 57 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 83 helicopters, 353 tanks, 125 artillery pieces, 1,165 armored personnel carriers, 58 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), two boats, 558 cars, 60 fuel tanks, 31 anti-aircraft batteries, and seven unmanned aerial systems.
As is always the case, the accuracy of official numbers isn’t the best as a psychological element influences their reporting. Also, designations (such as what constitutes a “tank” or an “armored personnel carrier”) might be a bit off and thus produce higher numbers. Nonetheless, independent reporting from the ground has visually accounted for and verified more than 1,000 destroyed, abandoned, or captured Russian tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, armored personnel carriers, anti-aircraft systems, and vehicles.
Western intelligence officials, moreover, are assessing that Russian casualties (killed in action) are in the range of 5,000 to 6,000.
A Humanitarian Crisis Is Unfolding
For the sixth day in a row, humanitarian aid has failed to reach the besieged city of Mariupol. Russian forces have surrounded the Ukrainian city and are trying to shell it to surrender. The Ukrainian defenders are putting up fierce resistance, but supplies are running out. Hundreds of thousands of civilians are trapped in the city, making the humanitarian situation dire.
The situation across other large Ukrainian cities, including the capital Kyiv and the second-largest city Kharkiv, is similar, though not as dire. The Russian military More than 2 million people have become refugees and left Ukraine since the war started on February 24. The European Union is preparing to receive the Ukrainian refugees and ease their burden of displacement. But with no end in sight, the war will kill and wound thousands more.
1945’s New Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.