On day 70 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Russian forces are concentrating their military might in a certain part of the frontline in eastern Ukraine in an attempt to finally achieve a breakthrough. The Ukrainian defense continues to be fierce, only giving way to mass barrages of Russian artillery.
The War In the East
In its daily estimate of the war, the British Ministry of Defense stated that the Russian military has deployed dozens of battalion tactical groups near the strategic town of Izium. Most of these forces were repositioned from the suburbs of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, located a few miles to the north. The Russian military is positioning these forces there most likely in an attempt to break through and force Ukrainian forces further south to withdraw or be surrounded.
“Russia has deployed 22 battalion tactical groups near Izium in its attempt to advance along the northern axis of the Donbas. Despite struggling to break through Ukrainian defences and build momentum, Russia highly likely intends to proceed beyond Izium to capture the cities of Kramatorsk and Severodonetsk. Capturing these locations would consolidate Russian military control of the north-eastern Donbas and provide a staging point for their efforts to cut-off Ukrainian forces in the region,” the British Military Intelligence assessed.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Wednesday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 24,500 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 194 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 155 helicopters, 1,077 tanks, 491 artillery pieces, 2,610 armored personnel carriers, 163 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 10 boats, 1,867 vehicles and fuel tanks, 81 anti-aircraft batteries, 303 unmanned aerial systems, 38 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 87 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.
The Ukrainian defense continues to draw awe and accolades from around the world. On Tuesday, the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, spoke to the Ukrainian Parliament.
“Your farmers kidnapped Russian tanks with their tractors. Your pensioners told Russian soldiers to hop as we say, although they may have used more colourful language. Even in the parts of Ukraine that were temporarily captured, your populations, your indomitable populations turned out to protest, day after day. And though your soldiers were always outnumbered – three to one it is now – they fought with the energy and courage of lions,” Johnson said.
Johnson is the first western leader to address the Ukrainian Parliament since the Russian invasion began on February 24.
“You have beaten them back from Kyiv. You have exploded the myth of Putin’s invincibility and you have written one of the most glorious chapters in military history and in the life of your country. The so-called irresistible force of Putin’s war machine has broken on the immoveable object of Ukrainian patriotism and love of country. This is Ukraine’s finest hour, that will be remembered and recounted for generations to come. Your children and grandchildren will say that Ukrainians taught the world that the brute force of an aggressor counts for nothing against the moral force of a people determined to be free. They will say that Ukrainians proved by their tenacity and sacrifice that tanks and guns cannot suppress a nation fighting for its independence, and that is why I believe that Ukraine will win,” the British prime minister added.
But Johnson wasn’t the only one. A senior U.S. diplomat also praised Ukrainian resolve.
“I want to start out by saying just how inspired we all are by the courage of the Ukrainian people in defending their homes, their neighborhoods, their cities, and indeed their country. We have seen they have repelled attacks, particularly on the northern reached of Kyiv, and pushed Russian troops back across the border. And their heroism at battle has been commendable,” U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Michael Carpenter said.
“And indeed, they have won the battle of Kyiv and Russia has lost, but that of course has come at a huge cost in terms of both human – the human toll – and also the humanitarian toll. What we are seeing right now is that Russia’s forces are regrouping and refocusing their effort on Ukraine’s south and east, and as we look at Russian planning it is also being refocused on Ukraine’s south and east,” Carpenter added.
Such declarations of awe might seem redundant on the outside but they do play an important role in informing domestic and international audiences about the efforts of the Ukrainian military and people, which, in return, can facilitate and accelerate the shipment of funds and weapon systems.
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.