The War in Ukraine, an Update: On day 63 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russian forces are still seeking a breakthrough in Eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian military is putting up a stiff fight and frustrating the Russian advance.
The War in the Eastern Ukraine
The Russian military is still seeking a breakthrough in the Donbas. The Russian forces have made some limited gains as they advance toward Izium near Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia further south.
For its part, the Ukrainian military is pressuring the Russians in Kherson.
The Ukrainian forces have the benefit of real-time intelligence sharing by the U.S. The American intelligence community is providing the Ukrainian military with timely and actionable intelligence that enables the former to strike Russian positions with great accuracy. Last week, the Ukrainians stated that they struck a Russian command and control center, taking out 50 senior officers, including two generals.
“In the Mariupol direction, russian [sic] enemy is exerting massive fire and blocking our units in the area of the Azovstal plant. In the city, russian [sic] occupiers continue to carry out filtering measures against the civilian population,” the Ukrainian Military stated in its daily operational update.
Russian Casualties in Ukraine
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Wednesday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 22,400 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 185 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 155 helicopters, 939 tanks, 421 artillery pieces, 2,342 armored personnel carriers, 149 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), eight boats, 1,666 vehicles, 76 fuel tanks, 71 anti-aircraft batteries, 207 unmanned aerial systems, 31 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems.
As we have repeatedly written, these numbers, coming from an official source, should be taken with a grain of salt. It benefits the Ukrainian government if the Russian casualties are high as it serves a dual purpose: first, as a psychological boost to the Ukrainian people, and second as a testament to the effectiveness of the Ukrainian military.
However, independent reporting and Western intelligence services have corroborated to some extent the Ukrainian claims. And now, we have some sort of official confirmation. On Monday, British Minister of Defense Ben Wallace talked about the Russian casualties.
“It is our assessment that approximately 15,000 Russian personnel have been killed during their offensive. Alongside the death toll are the equipment losses. In total, a number of sources suggest that to date over 2,000 armoured vehicles have been destroyed or captured. This includes at least 530 tanks, 530 Armoured Personnel Carriers and 560 Infantry Fighting Vehicles. Russia has also lost over 60 helicopters and fighter jets,” the British Minister of Defense said in the House of Commons.
On the Ukrainian camp, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed recently that the Ukrainian military has lost between 2,000 to 3,000 troops, while approximately 10,000 soldiers have been wounded.
More than two months into the war, the Ukrainian military is largely in control of the airspace. Despite its numerical and technological superiority, the Russian Aerospace Forces have failed to achieve air dominance over Ukraine. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Air Force is getting stronger as third countries are providing it with spare parts to renew its MiG-29 Fulcrum fleet.
An Unseen Consequence: Ukraine’s Economy Destroyed?
The Russian invasion has devastated the Ukrainian economy. The World Bank expects that the Ukrainian economy will contract as much as 45 percent in terms of gross domestic product this year. In comparison, the Russian economy is set to diminish by about 12 to 15 percent.
But what is especially concerning is the war’s effect on the Ukrainian harvest. Ukraine is one of the largest producers and exporters of wheat in the world and was once known as the breadbasket of the Soviet Union.
The British Ministry of Defense assessed that the Russian invasion of Ukraine would adversely affect Ukrainian agricultural production, with unseen consequences for the world.
“The Russian invasion of Ukraine has significantly disrupted Ukrainian agricultural production. The Ukrainian grain harvest for 2022 is likely to be around 20 percent lower than 2021 due to reduced sowing areas following the invasion. Ukraine is the fourth-largest producer and exporter of agricultural goods in the world. Reduced grain supply from Ukraine will generate inflationary pressures, elevating the global price of grain. High grain prices could have significant implications for global food markets and threaten global food security, particularly in some of the least economically developed countries,” the British Military Intelligence assessed.
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.