On day 125 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Russian forces are trying to capitalize on their recent successes in eastern Ukraine, while the Ukrainian military is trying to slow down the Russian advance and inflict as many casualties as possible in the process.
The Situation in the Donbas
The Russian military is pushing hard in the Donbas and is threatening the Ukrainian forces there with an encirclement. However, the Russian rate of advance remains slow and deliberate.
In its daily estimate of the war, the British Ministry of Defense touched on the situation in the Donbas but mainly focused on the failure of the Russian military to produce results within reason.
“Ukrainian forces continue to consolidate their positions on higher ground in the city of Lyschansak, after falling back from Sieverodonetsk. Ukrainian forces continue to disrupt Russian command and control with successful strikes deep behind Russian lines,” the British Military Intelligence assessed.
“Over 24-26 June, Russia launched unusually intense waves of strikes across Ukraine using long-range missiles. These weapons highly likely included the Soviet-era AS-4 KITCHEN and more modern AS-23a KODIAK missiles, fired from both Belarusian and Russian airspace. These weapons were designed to take on targets of strategic importance, but Russia continues to expend them in large numbers for tactical advantage,” the British Ministry of Defense added.
“Similarly, it fielded the core elements of six different armies yet achieved only tactical success at Sieverodonetsk. The Russian armed forces are increasingly hollowed out. They currently accept a level of degraded combat effectiveness, which is probably unsustainable in the long term,” the British Military Intelligence stated.
HIMARS Fighting in Ukraine
The latest weapon system that the U.S. military has sent Ukraine is the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). These multiple rocket launch weapon systems are able to conduct precise strikes deep behind enemy lines. The Ukrainian military has received four and is set to receive an additional four in the next few weeks. The first batch of four is already operating against Russian forces, reportedly with success.
“As you’ve likely observed on social media, Ukrainians are noting now that they do have HIMARS in their country. I won’t go into any particular details this morning, but all indications are that they are employing them very well. We’re continuing to work diligently to get the additional four HIMARS in the country that were announced in last week’s PDA [Presidential Drawdown Authority]. And also of note, the second round of HIMARS training should coincide with that, as well, and we expect that to be done here in the near future. And again, I’m happy to talk about that training and other training that we’re conducting with our partners and with the Ukrainians,” a senior U.S. defense official said.
Russian Indiscriminate Fire: A Sign of Desperation?
On Monday, the Russian forces targeted a shopping mall in the residential area of Kremechuk, in the Poltava province of Ukraine. The strike took place in the middle of the day while the shopping mall was packed with people. Ukrainian authorities claim that more than 1,000 civilians were on the location doing their shopping when two Russian ballistic or cruise missiles struck the shopping mall.
The attack came after a weekend packed with Russian long-range strikes against Ukrainian cities. More than four months into the war and the Russian military has launched more than 2,100 ballistic and cruise missiles against Ukraine.
The Russian military continues to suffer an unsustainable rate of casualties, both in terms of men and weapon systems. To be sure, Russia has men to send to the frontlines, but in war, not all men are created equal. An inexperienced soldier—like the ones Moscow has to rely on increasingly more—won’t perform as well as a seasoned veteran.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Tuesday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 35,250 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 217 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 185 attack and transport helicopters, 1,567 tanks, 778 artillery pieces, 3,704 armored personnel carriers, 243 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 14 boats and cutters, 2,589 vehicles and fuel tanks, 102 anti-aircraft batteries, 636 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 61 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 139 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.
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.