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Smart Bombs: Military, Defense and National Security

Russia’s War in Ukraine Enters the Hell Phase: Brutal Urban Warfare

Russian military 305th Artillery Brigade's exercise. 2S5 self-propelled cannon.
Russian military 305th Artillery Brigade's exercise. 2S5 self-propelled cannon.

On day 14 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Russian forces keep struggling to meet their objectives as the war has entered a brutal urban phase. Civilian casualties are mounting as Russian forces are indiscriminate shelling urban cities.   

When Missiles and Artillery Meet Cities 

The slowness of the Russian advance, mainly caused by the stiff Russian resistance, has caused the Kremlin to shift its strategy from direct action to indirect long fires against urban centers in an attempt to force the Ukrainians to the peace negotiation table. 

However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly stated through words and actions that Ukraine will keep fighting to the end unless Moscow concedes to fair negotiations and reasonable demands. 

According to the Pentagon, Russian forces have launched more than 710 missiles of all varieties to Ukraine. 

The situation in Kyiv remains unchanged, with Russian forces stuck about 20 miles to the north of the city. In Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, Russian forces are approaching the edges of the city, but they are encountering heavy resistance. In the south, Russian forces are nearing the city of Mykolaiv. 

Russia has still failed to achieve air dominance over the Ukrainian skies, and the Pentagon assesses that the Ukrainian Air Force can still field several squadrons of fully mission qualified aircraft. 

Weapons provided by the U.S. and its European allies and partners have played a critical part in stalling the Russian invasion.

“We believe the best way to support Ukrainian defense is by providing them the weapons and the systems that they need most to defeat Russian aggression. In particular, anti-armor, and air defense. We along with other nations continue to send them these weapons and we know that they’re being used with great effect. The slowed Russian advance in the north, and a contested airspace over Ukraine is evidence alone of that. Although Russian air capabilities are significant, their effectiveness has been limited due to Ukrainian strategic operational and tactical ground-based air defense systems, surface to air missiles, and MANPADS,” Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said in a press briefing

Russian Casualties Are In the Thousands 

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Thursday, Ukrainian forces have killed, wounded, or captured approximately 12,000 Russian troops, destroyed 49 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 81 helicopters, 335 tanks, 123 artillery pieces, 1,105 armored personnel carriers, 56 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), two boats, 526 cars, 60 fuel tanks, 29 anti-aircraft batteries, and seven unmanned aerial systems. 

As stated previously, the accuracy of these numbers is shrouded in a fog of war and expected government hyperbole. But independent reports on Russian military losses indicate that the Ukrainian claims aren’t too far from the truth. Over the past two weeks, independent sources have used open-source intelligence techniques to visually identify and verify almost 1,000 Russian vehicles of all types destroyed, abandoned, or captured. 

Moreover, the U.S. intelligence community has assessed the Russian casualties to be in the range of 5,000 to 6,000 killed in action with almost three times that in wounded. Should those numbers prove to be accurate, the Russian military would have lost almost as many men in two weeks of fighting in Ukraine as it did in ten years of combat in Afghanistan against the Mujahideen in the 1980s.  

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 InsiderSandboxx, and SOFREP.

1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist with specialized expertise 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.