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We Think We Know Putin’s New War Goal for Ukraine

TOS-1 firing. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

On day 42 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russian forces are repositioning for a renewed assault on eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian military has been liberating the north of the country, and most Russian troops have left the region.

The international response to the Russian atrocities in Bucha and other towns and villages continues, with hundreds of Russian diplomats and intelligence officers getting expelled by countries and another wave of sanctions brewing.

The Focus Is On Eastern Ukraine

The Russian military is pulling back its forces from the north and sending them to the east and the Donbas region. But it will take some time before these units are ready for combat operations again as they suffered heavy manpower and materiel casualties in the battle for Kyiv.

“We do believe that the Russian military intends to focus their efforts on the Donbas area and the east. We do believe that as they move forces out of Kyiv, and Chernihiv, and places like Sumy that they are going to put these units into a refit regimen so that they can be resupplied, maybe even reinforced with manpower, and then applied elsewhere into the country,” Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said in a press briefing.

“We think that the most likely place for them to be reapplied into the end of the fight in Ukraine is in the east in the Donbas. We have not seen wholesale movement in that regard. We’re only just now seeing more movement of forces out of Ukraine and up into the north, but too soon to say that we can see any of those battalion tactical groups being actively resupplied and then reapplied into the fight. That hasn’t really happened yet,” the Pentagon press secretary added.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Wednesday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 18,600 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 150 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 135 helicopters, 684 tanks, 332 artillery pieces, 1,861 armored personnel carriers, 107 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), seven boats, 1,324 vehicles, 76 fuel tanks, 55 anti-aircraft batteries, 96 unmanned aerial systems, 25 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems.

Reports also have surfaced of a Russian Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopter that defected to the Ukrainian side. Kyiv has been offering $500,000 for any working Russian helicopter.

The Siege of Mariupol

Meanwhile, the siege of Mariupol continues. The Ukrainian port city has been surrounded and under siege by the Russian military for weeks now. The Russian forces are trying to divide the city into two pockets and then eliminate them one at a time. But the Ukrainian defenders are still holding up.

In its daily estimate of the war, the British Ministry of Defense highlighted the human cost of the siege.

“Heavy fighting and Russian airstrikes have continued in the encircled city of Mariupol. The humanitarian situation in the city is worsening. Most of the 160,000 remaining residents have no light, communication, medicine, heat or water. Russian forces have prevented humanitarian access, likely to pressure defenders to surrender,” the British Military Intelligence stated.

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.