On day 86 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Russian military is ramping up its efforts to achieve a breakthrough in eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian forces are putting up stiff resistance and continue to counterattack in places.
Fighting in the Donbas
The Pentagon stated that there haven’t been any major shifts in territory in the Donbas as both sides continue to fight brutal small engagements,
“We continue to assess that Russians are continuing their offensive in the northern Donbas. Certainly areas that we’re watching are activity in the direction of Slovyansk. Again, we have been talking about their desires to move on Slovyansk in the past, but no major shift in territory controlled by either side at this point today. But we do think that fighting along those same axis and along those same areas that we’ve been talking about will continue. But again no major changes,” a senior U.S. defense official stated.
The Russian military has 106 operational battalion tactical groups inside Ukraine. These combined-arms units comprise a mix of armor, mechanized infantry, artillery, air defenses, combat engineers, and electronic warfare troops, depending on their composition; they have from 800 to 1,000 men.
“Down in the south, continued activity between the Russians and Ukrainians in between Kherson and Mykolaiv. We see the Russians now conducting some harassing fires and some probing attacks in the direction of Mykolaiv. But they’re also at the same time reinforcing some of their defensive postures north of Kherson,” the senior U.S. defense official added.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Friday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 28,700 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 204 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 168 attack and transport helicopters, 1,254 tanks, 596 artillery pieces, 3,090 armored personnel carriers, 200 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 13 boats and cutters, 2,162 vehicles and fuel tanks, 93 anti-aircraft batteries, 460 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 43 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 103 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.
Russin Laser Weapons in Ukraine?
The Russian military claimed that it used laser weapons in Ukraine. According to Moscow, the laser weapons are being used to shoot down Ukrainian tactical unmanned aerial systems.
However, it is highly doubtful that the Russian military has a directed-energy weapon capability. Most likely, the Russian forces are using standard counter-drone tactics and weapons, including electronic warfare.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky ridiculed the Russian claims, suggesting that they are nothing more than a tool of psychological warfare—in which Russia is highly adept—to bolster Russian morale and shake that of the Ukrainian forces.
“In the propaganda of Nazi Germany there was such a term ‘wunderwaffe’. Wonder weapon. The clearer it became they had no chance in the war, the more propaganda there was about the wonder weapon, which would be so powerful that it would provide a turning point in the war,” Zelensky stated in his daily address to the Ukrainian people.
“And here we see that in the third month of a full-scale war, Russia is trying to find its ‘wunderwaffe’. Allegedly laser. All this clearly indicates the complete failure of the invasion. But again, this also shows that they are afraid to admit that catastrophic mistakes have been made at the highest state and military levels in Russia. Therefore, they will come up with more and more ‘wunderwaffe’ as the Armed Forces of Ukraine and all our defenders liberate our land step by step,” the Ukrainian president added.
Ukraine is one of the largest producers and exporters of grain in the world. The Russian invasion has frustrated the Ukrainian agricultural industry, setting up the conditions for a great global catastrophe.
“The Kremlin is making food a weapon in its illegal war. Countries around the world are suffering as a result. Russia must immediately end its blockade of Ukrainian ports which is obstructing the flow of essential goods,” the British Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office stated.
On its end, Russia claims that its actions in Ukraine aren’t influencing global food insecurity. But in reality, the blockading of Ukrainian ports by Russian warships, including Odesa, Ukraine’s third-largest city and biggest port, is preventing Ukrainian farmers from exporting or storing their harvest, jeopardizing the lives of millions of people, especially in Africa, Levant, and the Middle East, who depend on that grain.
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.