While Putin seems to be pressing forward in Ukraine, he is paying a big price for his so-called win: On day 131 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Russian military continues to press on in the Donbas after recent successes.
Ukraine Update: The Aftermath of Lysychansk
In its daily estimate of the war, the British Ministry of Defense assessed that the Ukrainian withdrawal from Lysychansk was made in order for the Ukrainian forces to have better defensive positions.
“Ukrainian forces have withdrawn from Lysychansk, likely falling back to prepared defensive positions. Russia’s Ministry of Defence had earlier claimed to have completed the encirclement of Lysychansk and secured full control of the city,” the British Military Intelligence assessed.
With almost all of Luhansk under Russian control, next-door Donetsk is soon to follow on Moscow’s target list. The complete capture of the two breakaway provinces by the Russian military will give the Kremlin a much-needed political victory.
“Fighting in and around the city in Luhansk Oblast has intensified over the past week with Russian forces making steady progress. The city was the last remaining major population centre in Luhansk Oblast under Ukrainian control. Russia’s focus will now almost certainly switch to capturing Donetsk Oblast, a large portion of which remain under the control of Ukrainian forces,” the British Ministry of Defense stated.
“The fight for the Donbas has been grinding and attritional and this is highly unlikely to change in the coming weeks,” the British Military Intelligence added.
Russian Casualties in Ukraine
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Monday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 36,200 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 217 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 187 attack and transport helicopters, 1,589 tanks, 804 artillery pieces, 3,754 armored personnel carriers, 246 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 15 boats and cutters, 2,629 vehicles and fuel tanks, 105 anti-aircraft batteries, 658 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 65 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 144 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.
The Ukraine War Takes a Turn: Holding Grain Hostage
In its daily estimate, the British Military Intelligence also focused on the geopolitics of the Ukrainian grain. Ukraine is one of the largest producers of grain in the world but it is unable to ship them because of the Russian blockade in the Blasé Sea. As a result, tens of millions around the world face famine.
“With harvest underway, Russia’s invasion continues to have a devastating impact on Ukraine’s agricultural sector. The war has caused major disruption to the supply chains of seed and fertiliser which Ukrainian farmers rely on. Russia’s blockade of Odesa continues to severely constrain Ukraine’s grain exports. Because of this, Ukraine’s agricultural exports in 2022 are unlikely to be more than 35% of the 2021 total,” the British Ministry of Defense stated.
“Following its retreat from the Black Sea outpost of Snake Island, Russia misleadingly claimed that ‘the ball is now in Ukraine’s court’ in relation to improving grain exports. In reality, it is Russia’s disruption of Ukraine’s agricultural sector which continues to exacerbate the global food crisis,” the British Military Intelligence assessed.
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.