41,000 dead Russian soldiers in Ukraine so far. What happens next in this bloody conflict? Here is an update: On day 160 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Russian military is looking for a breakthrough in the Donbas in eastern Ukraine.
Ukrainian Grain and the Naval War
In its daily estimate of the war, the British Ministry of Defense focused on the naval aspect of the conflict. On Monday, after months of negotiations, the first cargo ship carrying Ukrainian grain left Odesa.
“The Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship RAZONI left the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Odesa on 1 August, headed to the port of Tripoli in Lebanon loaded with 26,000 tonnes of Ukrainian grain,” the British Military Intelligence stated.
This instance marks a breakthrough in a rather unseen aspect of the war.
“This marks the first grain shipment from a Ukrainian port since the invasion began, enabled by an agreement on a grain export transit corridor between Ukraine, Turkey, the UN, and Russia on 22 July,” the British Ministry of Defense added.
More than 400 million people around the world, but particularly in the Middle East and Africa, are dependent on Ukrainian grain and vegetable oils. The Russian invasion and the naval blockade of Ukrainian portsv had put a stop to the export of grain, causing a global food insecurity crisis. But it wasn’t just the naval blockade that affected the Ukrainian agricultural industry, which is one of the biggest in the world. Russian ground operations throughout Ukraine have frustrated the harvest of grain, threatening to cause a global food crisis that would last up to several years.
Despite the Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports, the Russian Navy doesn’t reign supreme in the Black Sea. To be sure, the Russian Navy has the absolute superiority when it comes to numbers and quality of warships and submarines. However, the Ukrainian military has been highly effective in limiting the Russian advantages. Ukrainian tactical unmanned aerial systems and anti-ship missiles have created a “no-sail” zone close to the Ukrainian shores, preventing the Russian vessels from conducting littoral operations.
But the Ukrainians have been going into the offensive, too, with a recent drone attack on the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet showcasing their offensive capabilities.
“The reported strike on Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters in Sevastopol on Navy Day is the latest setback for the Black Sea Fleet in the five-month-old war against Ukraine, which included the loss of its flagship, the cruiser MOSKVA, in April 2022,” the British Ministry of Defense said.
“Following the reports of cancelled parades, it is unlikely that the Black Sea Fleet can manage high profile public events alongside its wartime activities,” the British Military Intelligence assessed.
Russian forces continue to suffer heavy casualties in Ukraine, and their effectiveness is suffering because of it, making it harder to launch successful offensive operations.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Tuesday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 41,170 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 223 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 191 attack and transport helicopters, 1,768 tanks, 936 artillery pieces, 4,014 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 259 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 15 boats and cutters, 2,914 vehicles and fuel tanks, 117 anti-aircraft batteries, 739 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 82 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 174 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.
Moving Troops to the South
The Russian military is relocating forces from the Donbas to the southern front and Kherson in order to defend against the incoming Ukrainian counteroffensive that aims to recapture the important Ukrainian city.
The GUR, the Ukrainian military intelligence agency, cited intelligence that indicates that the Russian military started relocating airborne forces from the Russian positions in Donetsk to Kherson at least two weeks ago. Moreover, the GUR stated that the Russian military is taking troops from other parts of the Donbas and moving them to Crimea to prepare for the Ukrainian counteroffensive.
“Russian forces are reportedly continuing to transfer troops from northern Donetsk Oblast to support defensive positions in southern Ukraine and may be halting the Slovyansk campaign for the time being,” the Institute for the Study of War assessed in its latest operational update of the war.
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.