On day 61 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Russian military has failed to make any significant breakthroughs in eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian forces are putting up a fierce and clever defense in the Donbas, using counterattacks to frustrate the renewed Russian offensive.
Meanwhile, the siege of Mariupol continues, with the last Ukrainian defenders at the Azovstal steelworks plant fighting a last stand.
The War In The East
Over the past 24 hours, the Russian military has conducted several attacks, especially in the area of Donetsk and Luhansk, in order to break the Ukrainian defenses. However, the Ukrainians have repulsed the Russian forces and continue to hold the line.
“In the Mariupol direction, Russian [sic] invaders continued to fire and fight in the Azovstal area. The enemy inflicted air strikes on certain objects of civilian infrastructure. The occupiers carried out assault operations in the direction of the settlement of Vremivka, suffered losses and retreated to previously occupied positions,” the Ukrainian military stated in its daily operational update.
The Russian military is still regrouping its forces that fought in Kyiv and Chernihiv in the north of Ukraine. Their movement and refitting, however, is being frustrated by, yet, unexplained sabotage on Russian and Belarussian transportation infrastructure.
Over the weekend, the Ukrainian military intelligence claimed that the Ukrainian forces launched a targeted strike against a Russian command and control post near occupied Kherson in the south of Ukraine. In the strike, the Ukrainian forces claimed to have killed or wounded more than 50 senior Russian officers, including two generals, after hitting the operations center of the Russian military’s 49th Combined Arms Army.
Should the reports prove accurate, it would mean that the Ukrainian military has killed nine Russian flag officers, or approximately one every seven days. Moreover, should the reports prove accurate, it will be another example of poor soldiering on the Russian military’s part. Bringing so many senior officers together so close to the front line, especially near a town that is openly hostile, is a recipe for disaster.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Monday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 21,900 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 181 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 154 helicopters, 884 tanks, 411 artillery pieces, 2,258 armored personnel carriers, 149 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), eight boats, 1,566 vehicles, 76 fuel tanks, 69 anti-aircraft batteries, 201 unmanned aerial systems, 28 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems.
On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken visited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv in a landmark visit. The U.S. officials stated that the U.S. wants to see the military capability of the Russian military diminished so it will be unable in the future to commit similar acts of aggression.
Referendum in Kherson
In its daily assessment of the war, the British Ministry of Defense stated that the Kremlin is planning to stage a referendum in the Ukrainian city of Kherson in south Ukraine in an attempt to justify its occupation there.
“Russia is planning a staged referendum in the southern city of Kherson aimed at justifying its occupation. The city is key to Russia’s objective of establishing a land bridge to Crimea and dominating southern Ukraine. Russia previously held an illegitimate referendum on the accession of Crimea into the Russian Federation in 2014 to retrospectively justify its seizure of the Peninsula. Russia’s own domestic elections have been beset by allegations of vote rigging and have seen high-profile opposition blocked from running,” the British Military Intelligence stated.
It is pretty obvious even to the casual observer that any referendum held under duress—and it will be under duress if we were to judge by Moscow’s previous practice for political repression—will be invalid.
The Russian occupying forces are restricting the movements of Ukrainian civilians, the Ukrainian government is claiming.
“In the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, the Russian occupiers are introducing measures restricting the rights and freedoms of civilians, including freedom of movement. Ukrainian defenders hold the defense and inflict heavy losses on the russian [sic] enemy,” the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense stated in its daily operational update.
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.