On day 65 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Russian forces continue to struggle in eastern Ukraine, failing to achieve a breakthrough. The Ukrainian defenses hold across the frontline, and in some places, the Ukrainians have been retaking lost territory.
In Mariupol, the Ukrainian defenders in the Azovstal steelworks plant are holding on.
Not Going According To Plan
On its daily estimate of the war, the British Ministry of Defense assessed that the Russian military has been suffering heavy casualties and achieving little gains in its renewed offensive in the east.
“The Battle of Donbas remains Russia’s main strategic focus, in order to achieve its stated aim of securing control over the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. In these oblasts [provinces] fighting has been particularly heavy around Lysychansk and Severodonetsk, with an attempted advance south from Izium towards Slovyansk. Due to strong Ukrainian resistance, Russian territorial gains have been limited and achieved at significant cost to Russian forces,” the British Military Intelligence assessed.
The Ukrainian military hasn’t just been putting up a stiff defense, it has been counterattacking in places. Over the last few days, the situation around Kharkiv, the second-largest Ukrainian city, has been tilting in favor of the Ukrainian forces. Ukrainian troops have entered the occupied town of Rus’ka Lozova and completely liberated Kutuzivka; the former is just 15 miles from the Russian border.
“russian [sic] enemy did not conduct active offensive operations in the Izyum [sic] direction. its [sic] main efforts were focused on conducting reconnaissance, identifying the defensive positions of units of the Defense Forces of Ukraine and their destruction by artillery fire. In the Donetsk and Tavriya [sic] directions, in order to prevent the regrouping of Ukrainian troops, russian [sic] enemy fires at positions from artillery, mortars and rocket-propelled grenade launchers along the entire line of contact. russian [sic] occupiers continue to blockade Ukrainian units in Mariupol, near the Azovstal plant,” the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense stated in its daily operational update.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Friday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 23,000 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 187 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 155 helicopters, 986 tanks, 435 artillery pieces, 2,418 armored personnel carriers, 151 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), eight boats, 1,695 vehicles, 76 fuel tanks, 72 anti-aircraft batteries, 229 unmanned aerial systems, 31 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems.
Reports also indicate that Russia is using dolphins to protect its naval bases in the Black Sea.
Weapons and More Weapons
Meanwhile, the supply of weapon systems to Ukraine continues at a frantic pace. U.S. President Joe Biden has proposed a $33 billion security, humanitarian, and economic aid package to Ukraine. More than $20 billion of that package would go toward the needs of the Ukrainian military, security services, and law enforcement. But the U.S. hasn’t been the only one providing Ukraine with weapons.
Poland, which shares a common border and hatred of Russians with Ukraine, has been one of the largest contributors compared to gross domestic product of military aid to Ukraine. The Polish have sent air-to-air missiles and spare parts to refurbish and replenish the fleet of the Ukrainian MiG-29 Fulcrum fighter jets. In addition, they have sent hundreds of T-72 main battle tanks, which are very useful to the Ukrainians because they already operate that type of tank and thus required almost no time to familiarize themselves with the machine.
The U.S. claims to have evidence that proves that Russian forces are executing Ukrainian troops while they are trying to surrender. The U.S. accused the Russian military of summarily executing Ukrainian soldiers who were trying to surrender.
“We now have credible information that a Russian military unit operating in the vicinity of Donetsk executed Ukrainians who were attempting to surrender, rather than take them into custody,” Beth Van Schaack, the U.S. ambassador-at-large for Global Criminal Justice stated during a United Nations Security Council meeting.
Russian forces have already committed heinous atrocities and war crimes against Ukrainian civilians across the country.
“If true, this would be in violation of a core principle of the law of war: the prohibition against the summary execution of civilians and of combatants who are hors de combat by virtue of surrender, injury, or other forms of incapacitation,” Van Schaack said.
“These reports suggest that atrocities are not the result of rogue units or individuals; they rather reveal a deeply disturbing pattern of systematic abuse across all areas where Russia’s forces are engaged,” the U.S. ambassador added.
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.