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Putin’s Ukraine Nightmare: Has Russia’s Military Failed in the Donbas?

Switchblade Drone
Switchblade drone. Image Credit: Industry handout.

Ukraine War Update: On day 75 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the fighting in the east rages on. The Russian military has failed to achieve a breakthrough in the Donbas despite a mass concentration of forces. The Ukrainian military continues to use small counterattacks to upset the Russian offensive

The War in the Eastern Ukraine Rages on

The fighting in the Donbas continues but with no Russian breakthrough imminent. The Russian military continues to use mass artillery fire to dislodge Ukrainian units. Russian forces in Mariupol have launched a series of attacks on the battered Azovstal steelworks plant where the last of the Ukrainian garrison has holed up. 

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Monday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 25,650 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 199 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 158 helicopters, 1,145 tanks, 513 artillery pieces, 2,764 armored personnel carriers, 185 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 12 boats and cutters, 1,970 vehicles and fuel tanks, 87 anti-aircraft batteries, 377 unmanned aerial systems, 41 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 94 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.

The Woes of the Russian Air Force in Ukraine

On its daily estimate of the war, the British Ministry of Defense assessed that the Russian Aerospace Forces are running low on precision-guided munitions, which is resulting in increased civilian casualties. 

“At the onset of its invasion of Ukraine, Russia publicly promoted its ability to conduct surgical strikes and limit collateral damage. It stated that Ukrainian cities would therefore be safe from bombardment. However, as the conflict continues beyond Russian pre-war expectations, Russia’s stockpile of precision-guided munitions has likely been heavily depleted. This has forced the use of readily available but ageing munitions that are less reliable, less accurate and more easily intercepted,” the British Military Intelligence assessed.

But the unprecedented sanctions imposed on Russia are taking a toll on the Russian military and aerospace industries, making it even harder to replace any used precision-guided munitions.

Su-34 Russia Ukraine

Russia’s Su-34 fighter-bomber. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

“Russia will likely struggle to replace the precision weaponry it has already expended. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has revealed shortcomings in its ability to conduct precision strikes at scale. Russia has subjected Ukraine’s towns and cities to intense and indiscriminate bombardments with little or no regard for civilian casualties,” the British Military Intelligence assessed.

Russian Commanders Dying in

The massive scale and protracted nature of the conflict have exposed the many shortcomings of the Russian military. At the core, the Russian military seems to be unable to conduct large-scale, joint combined arms operations. 

Another issue that has been exposed has to do with how Russian commanders actually fight and lead their troops into combat. It seems that the Russian field grade and senior officer is more likely to personally lead his troops from the front. Although a sign of bravery, that is an inefficient way to lead as the presence of a senior officer on the frontlines immediately “drowns” junior officers, who are less likely to lead effectively, and leads to micromanagement. 

“Difficulties in command and control, as well as faltering Russian performance on the front line, have drawn senior commanders onto the battlefield, likely to take personal leadership of operations. Russian commanders rarely delegate operational authority to their subordinates, who in turn do not gain vital leadership experience,” the British Military Intelligence assessed.

Russian generals and other senior officers have suffered heavy casualties in the war so far. More than ten Russian generals and scores of colonels and lieutenant colonels have been killed by Ukrainian fire. 

Russian Tank

Russian T-80 tank. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

“However, it is not clear that the presence of these commanders on the battlefield has led to a refined or altered operational concept. Flawed planning assumptions and failures in sustainment continue to undermine Russian progress. The forward deployment of commanders has exposed them to significant risk, leading to disproportionately high losses of Russian officers in this conflict. This has resulted in a force that is slow to respond to setbacks and unable to alter its approach on the battlefield. These issues are likely to endure given the relative lack of operational command experience of the officers promoted in place of those killed,” the British Military Intelligence 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 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.



  1. anon anon

    May 9, 2022 at 3:42 pm

    FTA: “The forward deployment of commanders has exposed them to significant risk, leading to disproportionately high losses of Russian officers in this conflict.”

    A minor quibble, but this statement assumes facts not in evidence. We really don’t know what the composition of that ~25K loss is. Perhaps junior officers are croaking at a highly-proportional rate? Which could explain some of the organizational/morale problems we’re seeing – since, even at the front, the field of view of the General only extends so far.

    Otherwise, a solid recap.

  2. RWS the 1st.

    May 9, 2022 at 8:24 pm

    That would be pretty bad for Russia, if true. But it is just more western propaganda lies.
    Russia is firmly in hand with victory, even within its own timeline that being from day one they could not predict if the UKR would resist hard or crumble and surrender. Russia planned for both outcomes, seeing fierce resistance they turned to the attrition plan.And they also planned for massive assistance from western NATO countries, Ie. America and its poodles in Europe.
    Every major western media says, Russia bad, UKR good, Russia loosing, UKR winning.
    Yet every embedded independent journalist says the opposite.

    Since I am aware that governments never tell the truth, and am quite aware of the western media being nothing but Mockingbirds, I’m gonna put this in the Former category.

  3. CK

    May 10, 2022 at 10:04 am

    They are on track to lose 30,000 in the next week or two in total.

    Whichever way you cut this, it’s a huge failure. There are now reports even that units are refusing to carry orders outright. Far from getting better, it seems things are steadily getting worse.

  4. Alex

    May 10, 2022 at 10:13 am

    In sum, Putin stepped on his carrot.

  5. Alex

    May 10, 2022 at 11:03 am

    And now, instead of tantrums and fantasies, let’s face it.

    Zelensky is a Kremlin agent.

    So in just two months:

    1. Actively extorted money from the West.

    2. Strengthened the ruble.

    3. In addition to the Crimea, he gave Donbass to Russia.

    4.. Turned off the gas at the whole of Europe, sending it to the Middle Ages.

    5. Ruined the pockets of drivers, farmers, entrepreneurs and manufacturers in the EU and the US.

    6. Since the beginning of the special operation, almost all major competitors from Russia have left, making room for Russian entrepreneurs.

    7. Begging for so many weapons that even Scholz said that the Bundeswehr was running out of weapons “for himself.”

    8. He collected all the crap of the Ukrainian Nazi subculture – tattooed Nazis, outcasts, idiots, maniacs, murderers from Europe and other countries in one place, where the Russians kill them in batches and promptly deliver them to Bandera.

    9. United the Russian people around their leader. Russia has never known such powerful support for the actions of the President and his cabinet during all the terms of his reign.

    10. He sent into emigration the entire corrupt beau monde of the Russian stage and cinema, with pockets full of “wishes” from the grateful Russian people.

    Never before has Russia been as good as under Zelensky.

  6. Alex

    May 10, 2022 at 12:48 pm

    Jim Chambers (Fergie Chambers) – a journalist from NY spoke about how he SAW the attacks of Ukrainian fascists on peaceful Ukrainians. He told how he SAW what horrors the Bandera Nazis were doing to the Ukrainians. He said that food and medicine appeared when the Russian Liberators came.

    He told how he SAW Nazi paraphernalia wherever the military of Ukraine abandoned their positions (swastikas, Mein Kampf books, paintings by Hitler, Bandera, etc.).

    He SAW how opponents of the regime of the Ukrainian authorities were detained, tortured and killed. He told how the people of Ukraine are waging their struggle for existence and for peace without Bandera Nazis. He spoke about how the Russian liberators help civilians and the Ukrainians ask the Russians not to leave. The Ukrainians are upset that the Russians came late, they should have come earlier.

    He said: “Our American weapons have only exacerbated the useless bloodshed in a battle that the Ukrainian fascists can never win. I am ashamed to carry an American passport with me. The world desperately needs a Russian victory: at the end of Ukrainian Nazism and at the end of the American NATO empire. World needs victory for freedom.”

  7. Alex

    May 11, 2022 at 12:17 pm

    A bit of truth.

    The head of the UN monitoring mission, Matilda Bogner, said that the organization has reliable information about the torture of Russian soldiers in Ukrainian captivity:
    “Ukraine and Russia must promptly and effectively investigate all allegations of torture and ill-treatment of prisoners of war,” she said.

    The military-civilian administration of the Kherson region announced their intention to appeal to Putin with a request to include the region into Russia:
    “We intend to live as part of the Russian Federation. We fully cooperate and feel as one with the regions of Russia.”

    Pfizer, Moderna, Merck, Gilead are testing medicines in Ukraine, bypassing international safety standards, reducing the costs of research programs and gaining significant competitive advantages. Coronavirus vaccine manufacturers have been involved in US military biological activities.

    Along with American pharmaceutical companies and Pentagon contractors, Ukrainian state structures are involved in military biological activities, the main tasks of which are to conceal illegal activities, conduct field and clinical trials, and provide the necessary biomaterial.
    The American side expanded its research potential both in the field of creating biological weapons and in the field of obtaining information about antibiotic resistance and the presence of antibodies to various diseases in the population of specific regions.

    Ukraine has long become a training ground for Western countries to create biological weapons components and test new samples of pharmaceuticals.

    The United States, as part of its military biological program in Ukraine, used Mariupol as a regional center for work with the cholera pathogen.
    Evidence was obtained of the emergency destruction of documents confirming work with the US military department. A preliminary analysis of the surviving documentation indicates the use of Mariupol as a regional center for the collection and certification of the cholera pathogen.

    The selected strains were sent to the public health center in Kyiv, which is entrusted with the functions of further sending biomaterials to the United States.
    This activity has been carried out since 2014, which is confirmed by the acts of transfer of strains.

    Pentagon spokesman John Kirby on Fox News recalled that the United States supplied weapons to Ukraine long before the start of the Russian special operation.
    “The Biden administration was supplying weapons long before the invasion. The first billion dollars that the president allocated for Ukraine did indeed include assistance with lethal weapons … The United States, Canada, Britain, other allies actually helped prepare the Ukrainians, ”Kirby quoted the TV channel as saying.

    As military experts and analysts had previously assumed, Ukraine would have brought down all its military power on the Donbass in any case, but Russia was the first to come to the aid of Donyuass.

    The world is watching. The world sees. Lies are dying.

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