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Smart Bombs: Military, Defense and National Security

Russia Seems to Be in Retreat Everywhere in Ukraine

TOS-1 in Ukraine
TOS-1 firing in Ukraine. Image Credit: Russian Military.

On day 245 of the war in Ukraine, the Russian military continues to be on retreat across the battlefield, with the situation in the south in the vicinity of Kherson deteriorating fast.

The Russian command continues to pull troops from the western bank of the Dnipro River under pressure from the advancing Ukrainians. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian forces continue to advance in the east toward Svatove, another key logistical hub.

The Russian Casualties

Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Wednesday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 68,900 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 271 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 248 attack and transport helicopters, 2,628 tanks, 1,686 artillery pieces, 5,351 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 379 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 16 boats and cutters, 4,076 vehicles and fuel tanks, 192 anti-aircraft batteries, 1,379 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 149 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 350 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.

Partisan Activity Within Russia 

For months now, a series of mysterious fires and explosions have been taking place within Russia. The fact that the fires and explosions seem to target military installations and facilities or the defense and aerospace industry makes it highly likely that they are taking place in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine.

There was also the case of Belarusian dissidents sabotaging the railroad system in their country to prevent it from ferrying Russian troops and supplies to the frontlines in the first phase of the war during which the Russian forces attacked Kyiv.

But even after nine months of war, the sabotage inside Russia continues.

“On 24 October 2022, the governor of Russia’s Belgorod region announced that an explosive device had damaged the railway near the village of Novozybkovo, approximately 15km from the Russia-Belarus border. The line is the main rail link between Russia and southern Belarus,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war.

Although the vast majority of the explosions and fires remain unattributed, one group (Stop the Wagons) has been claiming responsibility for attacks against the Russian railway system.

“The Russian anti-war group ‘Stop the Wagons’ (STW) claimed responsibility for the incident. This is at least the sixth incident of sabotage against Russian railway infrastructure claimed by STW since June,” the British Ministry of Defense added.

“This is part of a wider trend of dissident attacks against railways in both Russian and Belarus. The Russian authorities have previously clamped down on STW’s online presence.

“The Russian military primarily relies on rail transport for deploying forces to Ukraine, but with a network extending to over 33,000km, largely transiting isolated areas, the system is extremely challenging to secure against physical threats. The Russian leadership will be increasingly concerned that even a small group of citizens has been sufficiently opposed to the conflict to resort to physical sabotage,” the British Military Intelligence assessed.

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. He is currently working towards a Master’s Degree in Strategy and Cybersecurity at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). 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.