The Russian military is putting up a stiff resistance to Ukraine’s counteroffensive in the south. On day 191 of the invasion, the Ukrainian forces are advancing toward Kherson from six directions, but the Russian troops are fighting hard.
The High Cost of the Russian Defense in Ukraine
But the Russian resistance is coming at a high cost. The Russian military continues to suffer unsustainable casualties. Although the Kremlin can replenish materiel casualties—at least for now and with older, weaker weapon systems—it can’t do the same with men. And this force generation problem is seriously hindering the Russian campaign in Ukraine.
To be sure, as the Ukrainians can very well testify, it is easier to defend than to attack. Traditional military doctrine stipulates that it takes three men to capture the position that is defended by one. But if the Russian military is seriously looking to meet the objectives set out by the Kremlin—that is, the capture of the Donbas, which is comprised of the Luhansk and Donetsk provinces, and create a land bridge to Crimea, which essentially means to capture the whole of southern Ukraine—it would have to solve the severe force generation issue and find ways to man the frontline units with adequate troops to conduct both defensive and offensive operations.
In the absence of a solution to that problem, the Russian military will continue to falter in Ukraine.
The Russian Casualties in Ukraine
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Friday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 48,700 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 234 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 205 attack and transport helicopters, 2,009 tanks, 1,126 artillery pieces, 4,366 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 289 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 15 boats and cutters, 3,247 vehicles and fuel tanks, 153 anti-aircraft batteries, 853 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 105 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 198 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.
Exercises for Domestic Consumption
Despite the ongoing war in Ukraine, in which the Russian military is performing poorly, to say the least, the Kremlin continues to pretend that nothing major is going on and that all is well. On Thursday, the Russian military launched its annual joint strategic exercise Vostok 22, which marks the end of the military training year.
The Russian Ministry of Defense is claiming that approximately 50,000 troops are taking part in the large-scale exercise in an attempt to showcase that the war in Ukraine is going well. But, according to British Military Intelligence, no more than 15,000 troops will take part in the exercise, and the exercise is nothing more than a heavily scripted event that doesn’t encourage initiative or any other military trait necessary for success in a modern-day joint and combined arms battlefield.
Expert Biography: A 19FortyFive 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.