Russia War in Ukraine Looks to Be in Serious Trouble: On the 227th day of the war, Ukrainian forces seem to have targeted and damaged – but have not taken responsibility for – the Kerch Bridge that links Crimea to Russia in a major development in the war.
Illegally annexed in 2014 by Russia, Crimea has served as a Russian military stronghold ever since and a major supply hub for the Russian invasion of Ukraine in the south.
The Russian Casualties in Ukraine
The Russian military continues to suffer heavy casualties in Ukraine. The Ukrainian counteroffensives in the east and the south of the country have cost the Russian forces thousands of troops and hundreds of tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, artillery pieces, drones, and armored personnel carriers.
As the war drags on, the Russian military capabilities will continue to diminish since Moscow can hardly replace the losses, especially in materiel, because of the heavy sanctions in its defense and aerospace industry.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Saturday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 62,060 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 266 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 234 attack and transport helicopters, 2,472 tanks, 1,459 artillery pieces, 5,111 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 345 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 15 boats and cutters, 3,875 vehicles and fuel tanks, 180 anti-aircraft batteries, 1,079 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 136 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.
The Cracks Begin to Show
The war isn’t going well at all for Russia. And now, the different factions that exist in the Russian national security sphere are starting to show. The Russian military failures of the past month are creating a chorus of criticism against the Russian Ministry of Defense, especially against Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
At one point before the invasion of Ukraine, Shoigu was considered the second most popular man in Russia after Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The main criticism is coming from Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of the Chechen forces, and Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder and owner of the infamous private military company Wager Group. However, there is a lot of criticism from TV presenters, pop stars, and the influential military blogger community, who use the Telegram messaging app to post their stories and often have good sources from the fighting on the ground.
“Kadyrov and Prigozhin are likely being perceived as informal figure heads of a ‘pro-war’ bloc whose criticism hinges on arguments for greater state commitment and willingness to escalate,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest update on the war.
Putin, in the meanwhile, seems to be okay with this acrimonious back-and-forth among his trusted lieutenants. For one, it deflects criticism from him.
“Both likely achieve some credibility based on the significant deployment of both Chechen and Wagner combat units on the ground. The criticism remains focused at the military high command rather than senior political leadership, but it does represent a trend of public voicing of dissent against the Russian establishment which is being at least partly tolerated and which will likely be hard to reverse,” the British Military Intelligence added.
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.