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Putin’s Military Mess: Can Russia Stop Ukraine’s Blitzkrieg?

TOS-1 firing. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

The Ukrainian counteroffensive in the east pushed the Russian forces hundreds of miles back and redrawn the battlefield. On day 203 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Russian forces are very much on the back foot, trying to plug the gaping holes left by the Ukrainian lightning offensive of last week.

The Russian Casualties

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Wednesday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 53,650 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 246 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 215 attack and transport helicopters, 2,180 tanks, 1,290 artillery pieces, 4,665 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 311 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 15 boats and cutters, 3,501 vehicles and fuel tanks, 167 anti-aircraft batteries, 908 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 120 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 233 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.

The War Goes On 

The devastating Ukrainian counteroffensive in the east doesn’t mean that the war is over. The Russian forces still occupy large swaths of Ukrainian territory and have considerable strength. To be sure, the Ukrainians have the strategic initiative, and any success or failure of their campaign now has more to do with them than with their Russian adversaries.

Now, the Russian military is restricted to the east bank of the Oskil River in the Kharkiv province, and the Ukrainian forces have reached in many places the border with Russia.

In the south, the Ukrainian forces continue their advance toward Kherson from three different directions, using long-range strikes to soften up their targets.

Meanwhile, in the Donbas, the Russian forces continue to conduct limited offensive operations in the vicinity of Bakhmut and Donetsk City.

The Russians Are Leaving? 

According to the Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence (GUR), Russian officials are urging their families to leave occupied Crimea for Russia after the recent successes of the Ukrainian forces.

The Ukrainian intelligence claims that Russian intelligence officers of the Federal Security Service (FSB)—a rough equivalent of the FBI—are selling their summer homes in Crimea and evacuating their families before any Ukrainian attack on the contested peninsula.

Iranian Drones in Ukraine

A few weeks ago, the U.S. Intelligence Community declassified information that suggested the Russian military has turned to Iran for drones. Now, there is first hard evidence of Iranian unmanned aerial systems in use by the Russian forces in Ukraine.

On Tuesday, the Ukrainian forces shot down a Shahed-136 unmanned aerial system near Kupyansk, a crucial logistical hub in the Kharkiv province. The destruction of the tactical one-way attack drone highlights the materiel woes of the Russian military.

HIMARS in Ukraine

HIMARS. This is similar to what is being used in Ukraine.

The heavy U.S. and Western sanctions placed on Moscow after the invasion of Ukraine on February 24 are starting to cripple the Russian defense and aerospace industry. Russia has made billions of dollars out of the war thus far because of the oil and natural gas prices that have skyrocketed. But the Kremlin is also somewhat restricted on how it can use those billions.

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 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.