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Russia’s Military Nightmare: Why Putin Can’t Seem to Win the War in Ukraine

Russian Artillery Firing. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
Russian Artillery Firing. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

On day 58 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared victory in Mariupol despite the defiance of the Ukrainian forces in the Azovstal steelworks plant. 

The fighting in the Donbas continues as Russian forces have failed to achieve any major gains days after their renewed offensive began.  

The Fight Goes On 

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Friday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 21,200 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 176 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 153 helicopters, 838 tanks, 397 artillery pieces, 2,162 armored personnel carriers, 138 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), eight boats, 1,523 vehicles, 76 fuel tanks, 69 anti-aircraft batteries, 172 unmanned aerial systems, 27 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems. 

Reports suggest that nearly 3,000 mercenaries from the infamous Russian Wagner Group have been killed in the fighting so far.

For the first time since the start of the war, the Ukrainian military can field more tanks than the Russian forces. The serious Russian tank losses and the transfer of tanks to Ukraine from other European countries, mainly T-72s from the Czech Republic, have given numerical superiority to Kyiv. 

The Drama of Mariupol

For the past few weeks, Mariupol has been the centerpiece of the war. The Russian forces have cornered the last Ukrainian defenders, and thousands of civilians in the city’s Azovstal steelworks plant. Putin has ordered his troops to encircle but not attack the humongous industrial complex. 

But the human suffering in the city is only emerging. 

According to Vadym Boichenko, the port city’s mayor, Russia has forcibly deported more than 40,000 Mariupol residents to Russia or the pro-Russian separatist areas in Donetsk and Luhansk. Further, more than 20,000 residents have been killed by the fighting so far, while 100,000 residents have managed to escape or have been evacuated from the city. But still, there are approximately 150,000 civilians in Mariupol and the surrounding villages and towns. Before the war, the Ukrainian port city sported a population of about 450,000.

The British government stated that since March 10, when the siege of Mariupol began, the Russian forces had dropped munitions on civilian infrastructure repeatedly, particularly targeting civil administration and government buildings, hospitals, schools, and transportation nodes, among other civilian targets. The U.K. government’s conclusion is that this is an intentional targeting based on the types of civilian targets struck, the frequency of the shelling, the volume of munitions, and the repeated targeting of the same targets over the span of several days. 

“Russian forces have retreated from Kyiv, leaving behind them a horrifying evidence. And you’ve seen it and you reported it — your folks. And, by the way, I don’t say this often, but I think we should give enormous credit to the folks in your agencies that are on the ground in Ukraine, in these spots. And I’ve spoken to several of them. We owe them. But uncovering these evidences [sic] of their atrocities and war crimes against the Ukrainian people — it’s so clear to the whole world now,” U.S. President Joe Biden said on Thursday.

More Weapons and Money to Ukraine

On Thursday, the U.S. announced another package of security aid to Ukraine worth $800 million. The latest shipment of weapons includes dozens of 155mm howitzers and thousands of 155mm artillery rounds to help the Ukrainian military deal with the renewed Russian offensive. 

“Now they’ve launched and refocused their campaign to seize new territory in eastern Ukraine. And we’re in a critical window now of time where that — they’re going to set the stage for the next phase of this war. And the United States and our Allies and partners are moving as fast as possible to continue to provide Ukraine the forces that they need — the weapons they need — excuse me — and the equipment they need — their forces need to defend their nation,” Biden added.

In addition to weapons, the U.S. is sending more money to Ukraine.

China White Phosphorous

Russian T-90 tank firing its main gun. Image Credit: Russian Ministry of Defense.

Cluster Bombs Russia

Cluster Bombs from TOS-2 MLRS launcher. Image Credit: Russian Armed Forces.

“Today, the United States is announcing that we intend to provide an additional $500 million in direct economic assistance to the Ukrainian government. This brings our total economic support for Ukraine to $1 billion in the past two months. This is money the government can [use to] help to stabilize their economy, to support communities that have been devastated by the Russian onslaught and pay the brave workers that continue to provide essential services to the people of Ukraine,” Biden said.

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.