On day 43 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Russian military is still repositioning its forces for a renewed attack on eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian military continues to hold Mariupol in the south and is also repositioning its forces to meet the expected Russian attack in the east.
A Repositioning of Forces
For the past week, the Russian military has been repositioning its forces to the east. Almost all Russian units in the Kyiv and Chernihiv fronts in the north have withdrawn back to Belarus and Russia, with the intention to reposition in the Donbas region. But before these units are ready for combat operations again, they will need rest and a significant refitting because of the casualties they have suffered so far.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Thursday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 18,900 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 150 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 135 helicopters, 698 tanks, 332 artillery pieces, 1,891 armored personnel carriers, 108 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), seven boats, 1,358 vehicles, 76 fuel tanks, 55 anti-aircraft batteries, 111 unmanned aerial systems, 25 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems.
To fill the gaps caused by the first six weeks of the invasion, the Kremlin is turning towards mercenaries and foreign fighters. According to Western intelligence officials, Moscow is increasingly relying on the infamous Wagner Group, Syrian fighters, and other foreigners.
In its daily estimate of the war, the British Ministry of Defense assessed that despite the Russian military’s renewed focus on eastern Ukraine and the Donbas region, long-range strikes by the Russian Aerospace Force and ballistic missiles against infrastructure and strategic targets across Ukraine would continue. Moscow has launched close to 1,500 ballistic and cruise missiles against Ukraine thus far.
“Progressing offensive operations in eastern Ukraine is the main focus of Russian military forces. Russian artillery and air strikes continue along the Donbas line of control. Russian strikes against infrastructure targets within the Ukrainian interior are likely intended to degrade the ability of the Ukrainian military to resupply and increase pressure on the Ukrainian government. Despite refocussing forces and logistics capabilities to support operations in the Donbas, Russian forces are likely to continue facing morale issues and shortages of supplies and personnel,” the British Military Intelligence assessed.
International Outcry and Sanctions
The atrocities and war crimes committed by Russian forces in the suburbs of Kyiv have triggered an international outcry. The U.S. and the European Union imposed a fifth wave of sanctions on Russia, even targeting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s family circle and his daughters.
Since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24, the U.S., European Union, and neutral European allies have expelled more than 400 Russian diplomats suspected of being intelligence officers.
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.