The war in Ukraine continues for its 218th day. The Ukrainians are advancing on the battlefield, while Russia is getting ready to annex four Ukrainian provinces and take the war into another uncharted territory.
The Kremlin has announced that on Friday, it will annex the Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, and Luhansk provinces that held sham referenda this past week. The decision to annex the four Ukrainian provinces—all of which are still contested on the battlefield—will further deteriorate the situation in Ukraine.
We’re Getting Out of Here
Hundreds of thousands of Russian men have left the country in the week since Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the partial mobilization of the reserves. The invasion of Ukraine is evidently a most unpopular war inside Russia, and men are looking to avoid getting conscripted into a losing military that will only send them to Ukraine to get killed or maimed.
According to the British Military Intelligence, the number of men that have left in the past seven days most likely exceeds the size of the total Russian invasion force that attacked Ukraine on February 24.
But besides the extremely embarrassing situation, that also has the potential to backfire politically on Putin, a lot of the men that are leaving Russia to avoid going to war are better off and more educated than the average Russian.
“When combined with those reservists who are being mobilised, the domestic economic impact of reduced availability of labour and the acceleration of ‘brain drain’ is likely to become increasingly significant,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war.
Russian Catastrophe in Lyman?
There is a high likelihood of a Russian military catastrophe in Lyman. Ukrainian forces from the south have managed to bridge Russian defenses on the Siverskyi Donets River and are now advancing on the Russian rear.
In the north, Ukrainian forces are coming down in force. Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces are attacking from the front as well, maximizing the pressure that the Russian forces are under. If the two concentric movements from the north and south manage to link up, then a sizeable Russian force will be encircled in Lyman.
Another Russian military defeat in Ukraine won’t bode well for the hundreds of thousands of reservists currently being mobilized. There is nothing worse than getting drafted to go to a war you don’t believe in while understanding that the chances you might be killed or maimed are high.
The Russian Casualties in Ukraine
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Thursday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 58,580 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 262 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 224 attack and transport helicopters, 2,325 tanks, 1,385 artillery pieces, 4,909 armored personnel carriers, and infantry fighting vehicles, 331 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 15 boats and cutters, 3,751 vehicles and fuel tanks, 175 anti-aircraft batteries, 995 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 131 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 246 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.