On day 44 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, both sides are preparing for the next phase of the war. The Russian military has finally fully withdrawn from the northern parts of Ukraine and is repositioning its forces to the east. The Ukrainian military is doing the same, sending its best units to the Donbas region in the east to await the next Russian attack.
The Ukrainian defenders of Mariupol continue to hold off the Russian assault. Russian long-range strikes continue throughout Ukraine.
Preparation for Battle
In its daily estimate of the war, the British Ministry of Defense assessed that all Russian forces in the north had withdrawn back to Russia and Belarus. But before they are combat-ready again, these units would need to spend at least a week for rest and refitting after the heavy fighting they saw.
“In the north, Russian forces have now fully withdrawn from Ukraine to Belarus and Russia. At least some of these forces will be transferred to East Ukraine to fight in the Donbas. Many of these forces will require significant replenishment before being ready to deploy further east, with any mass redeployment from the north likely to take at least a week minimum. Russian shelling of cities in the east and south continues and Russian forces have advanced further south from the strategically important city of Izium which remains under their control,” the British Military Intelligence assessed.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Friday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 19,000 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 150 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 135 helicopters, 700 tanks, 333 artillery pieces, 1,891 armored personnel carriers, 108 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), seven boats, 1,361 vehicles, 76 fuel tanks, 55 anti-aircraft batteries, 112 unmanned aerial systems, 25 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems.
Over the past week, the rate of Russian casualties that the Ukrainian military is claiming has slowed down significantly. This is most likely a result of the ongoing Russian repositioning of forces in eastern Ukraine. Of course, official numbers should always be considered with a grain of salt as each side will try to boost its success and downplay its losses.
Russian Strikes and Sanctions
A Russian strike against the Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk killed and wounded scores of people. On Friday morning, a Russian missile struck Kramatorsk, where thousands of people were trying to board trains to evacuate to the western parts of Ukraine. According to Ukrainian officials, the indiscriminate Russian attack killed at least 39 people and wounded close to 90, including civilians.
The sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin and Moscow also continue. The European Union joined the U.S. and the G7 in the fifth wave of sanctions after the Russian war crimes in the suburbs of Kyiv surfaced. According to the European Union, European countries have frozen almost €30 billion (approximately $33 billion) of Russian and Belarusian assets and blocked transactions valued at over €196 billion (approximately $214 billion).
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.