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Putin Has Big Problems: Is Russia Losing the Battle for Eastern Ukraine?

Russia Ukraine
Russia's artillery in operation. Image Credit - Russian State Media.

Ukraine War Update: On day 60 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Russian military failed to make any considerable gain in eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian military keeps conducting limited counterattacks in order to frustrate the renewed Russian offensive

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian defenders in the Azovstal steelworks plant are making a last stand against the Russian forces. 

Botched Offensive in Eastern Ukraine? 

In its daily estimate of the war, the British Ministry of Defense assessed that Ukrainian counterattacks are frustrating the Russian offensive in the Donbas. In addition, the Russian military has failed to establish air dominance over the skies of Ukraine after two months of war. 

“Despite increased activity, Russian forces have made no major gains in the last 24 hours as Ukrainian counter-attacks continue to hinder their efforts. Russian air and maritime forces have not established control in either domain owing to the effectiveness of Ukraine’s air and sea defence reducing their ability to make notable progress. Despite their stated conquest of Mariupol, heavy fighting continues to take place frustrating Russian attempts to capture the city thus further slowing their desired progress in the Donbas,” the British Military Intelligence assessed.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Sunday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 21,080 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 179 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 154 helicopters, 873 tanks, 408 artillery pieces, 2,238 armored personnel carriers, 147 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), eight boats, 1,557 vehicles, 76 fuel tanks, 69 anti-aircraft batteries, 191 unmanned aerial systems, 28 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems. 

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken are expected to visit Kyiv today

Violating the Geneva Conventions? 

The British Ministry of Defense assessed that the Russian forces might be trying to recruit Ukrainian civilians from occupied areas to fight, in violation of the Geneva Conventions. 

“The Ukrainian Main Intelligence Directorate and General Staff have accused Russia of planning to conscript Ukrainian civilians from the Russian occupied Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions. This would follow similar prior conscription practices in the Russian-occupied Donbas and Crimea,” the British Military Intelligence assessed.

The Russian military is using increasingly more pro-Russian Ukrainians from Donetsk and Luhansk regions as well as mercenaries from the infamous Wagner Group. This reliance on mercenaries and non-trained fighters suggests a manpower shortage in the Russian military. But doing so without their consent is a war crime. 

“Article 51 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states ‘the Occupying Power may not compel protected persons to serve in its armed or auxiliary forces’, and ‘no pressure or propaganda which aims at securing voluntary enlistment is permitted’. ‘Protected persons’ in this context includes civilians within occupied territories. Any enlistment of Ukrainian civilians into the Russian armed forces, even if presented by Russia as being voluntary or military service in accordance with Russian law, would constitute a violation of Article 51 of the Fourth Geneva Convention,” the British Military Intelligence stated.

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.