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Smart Bombs: Military, Defense and National Security

Release the Missiles: Putin Wants to Make Ukraine Pay

Tsirkon Hypersonic Missile
Tsirkon Hypersonic Missile. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

The war in Ukraine is nearing its eighth month. On day 229, the Russian military is attacking across Ukraine with ballistic and cruise missiles in response to the Ukrainian attack on the strategic Kerch Bridge over the weekend.

Russian Casualties in Ukraine

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Monday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 62,500 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 266 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 235 attack and transport helicopters, 2,486 tanks, 1,477 artillery pieces, 5,133 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 348 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 15 boats and cutters, 3,890 vehicles and fuel tanks, 180 anti-aircraft batteries, 1,086 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 136 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 247 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.

Russian Offensive Operations

The Russian military is on retreat almost across the battlefield. In the east, the Ukrainian forces are gaining ground around Lyman and Kupyansk, while in the south, the Ukrainian military is routing the Russian forces from the Kherson province. However, throughout this theater-wide retreat, the Russian military has been conducting offensive operations in the center of the Donbas around the Ukrainian town of Bakhmut.

The Russian military has been trying to reach Bakhmut for the better part of three months. The Ukrainian forces have been putting up a stiff resistance and have inflicted heavy casualties on the Russians. Despite the Ukrainian defense, the Russian forces have been advancing, albeit very slowly. Over the past week, Russian forces, including mercenaries from the infamous private military company Wagner Group, advanced a little more than a mile toward Bakhmut.

“Russia’s continued efforts to progress its grinding Donbas offensive, in the face of serious threats on its operational flanks highlight the imperative to deliver operational success while also underlining the inflexible operational design which has undermined its plans thus far,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war.

And yet, the capture of the city, which is now largely destroyed by the fighting, will have little operational benefits for a Russian military that is on the retreat throughout Ukraine. Indeed, the situation around Bakhmut very well describes the strategic short-sightedness of the Russian high command, which opts to fixate troops and energy against objectives of little operational importance and ignore pressing issues elsewhere on the battlefield.

Long Range Strikes Everywhere in Ukraine

Following the partial destruction of the Kerch Bridge, the Russian military launched retaliatory strikes with long-range weapons across Ukraine, including against the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.

Thus far, the strikes have killed 11 Ukrainian civilians and wounded more than 60.

“Our courage will never be destroyed by terrorist’s missiles, even when they hit the heart of our capital. Nor will they shake the determination of our allies. The only thing they demolish irriversibly [sic] is the future of Russia—a future of a globally despised rogue terrorist state,” Ukrainian Defense Miniser Oleksii Reznikov said in a statement on Twitter.

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.