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Smart Bombs: Military, Defense and National Security

Putin’s Ukraine Problem: Russia Still Can’t Achieve a Breakthrough in Donbas

Ukrainian "Hurricane" jet artillery cannons fire during exercises at the firing ground near the small village of Devichki, some 90 km west of Kiev, April 17, 1997.

On day 78 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Ukrainian military is counterattacking in several places, while the Russian forces are still trying to achieve a breakthrough in the Donbas.

Saboteurs and Russian Casualties 

According to the Ukrainian national police, Ukrainian law enforcement officers and the security services have detected 88 pro-Russian sabotage and reconnaissance group inside the country since the Russian invasion began on February 24. The Ukrainians have committed 123 anti-sabotage task forces with more than 1,100 law enforcement officers to the hunt for saboteurs, detaining 757 suspects thus far.

Security aid to Ukraine continues unabated. In the last ten days, the Ukrainian military has received 46,000 uniforms, 34,000 body armor vests, and 30,000 helmets from various foreign partners.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Thursday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 26,650 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 199 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 161 helicopters, 2,019 tanks, 534 artillery pieces, 2,873 armored personnel carriers, 191 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 12 boats and cutters, 1,997 vehicles and fuel tanks, 87 anti-aircraft batteries, 398 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.

Fighting in Mariupol 

In Mariupol, the last Ukrainian defenders are still holding against the Russian onslaught. Most of the Ukrainian defenders in the Azovstal steelworks plant belong to the Azov Battalion. The Ukrainian fighters have released photographs of their underground positions, showing the level of destruction; several soldiers have lost limbs as the Russian military continues to pound the vast industrial complex.

“Over the past 24 hours, there were 38 airstrikes, including 4 strategic bombings, on the territory of the Azovstal plant, which is defended by the defenders of Mariupol. Also, the enemy’s barrel artillery, tanks, etc. continue to operate. The enemy does not stop in its attempts to seize the Ukrainian fortress and continues to conduct daily assaults supported by infantry,” the Azov Battalion said on Twitter.

According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, Ukrainian forces had been able to deliver ammunition and medical aid to an area near the Azovstal steelworks plant for days, but now that task is impossible because of the number of Russian airstrikes.

The Ukrainian military is still in contact with the Ukrainian forces in the Azovstal steelworks plant, a senior Ukrainian military officer said.

Russia In the World 

The Pentagon is currently hosting the British Minister of Defense Ben Wallace.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said that, albeit the Russian invasion has entered its second phase, it remains hazardous. So, the U.S. and its allies and partners continue to “work together with unity and resolve to rush Ukraine what it needs to defend itself now and in the future.”

“Words and deeds matter, deeds matter more often than words. That has been absolutely clear throughout all of this, Ukraine war with Russia’s illegal invasion, that the United States demonstrated by their deeds they stand by their allies,” the British Minister of Defense said during a joint press briefing.

“There are many people who talk that throughout all of this, and way before back to 2015 the United States was in Ukraine, by Ukraine, both with training and support, and in military aid in a way that no other country was. And because of that, Ukraine is stronger today and able to hold out in their defense against a very aggressive Russia,” Wallace added.

But the British Minister of Defense made some solid arguments about how the Russian invasion of Ukraine will hurt the Russian military industry for years to come.

“Who’s going to be buying Russian kit? We have seen in Libya, in Syria, in Azerbaijan, and now in Ukraine, Russian equipment being defeated by predominantly handheld equipment,” Wallace said.

The British Minister of Defense pointed out that when a Bayraktar TB2 tactical unmanned aerial system can easily take out a SA-22 Pantsir short-range anti-aircraft system, then potential buyers of Russian military hardware might think twice before making a purchase in the future. To be sure, some of the countries Moscow sells its weapons opt for Russian-made arms for more reasons than just purely battlefield effectiveness.

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.