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Ukraine Martial Law Decree: What Sneaky Move is Putin Plotting?

Image of Ukraine tank firing. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

On day 238 of the war in Ukraine, the Kremlin declared martial law across Russia in an attempt to salvage something out of a war gone incredibly bad.

Russia Tank Ukraine

A Russian tank under attack by a drone from Ukraine. Image Credit: YouTube/Ukrainian military.

Martial Law in Parts of Ukraine 

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared martial law across his country in response to the dire military situation in Ukraine.

There are four levels of readiness imposed by martial law (maximum, medium, elevated, and basic), and the closer a Russian province is to the front, the more serious level of readiness it now has.

For example, the Russian provinces that border Ukraine have been issued a “medium” level of readiness, while the four illegally annexed Ukrainian provinces (Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson) have been issued a “maximum” level of readiness. Russian provinces far from the front have been issued a “basic” level of readiness.

But according to the Institute for the Study of War, the declaration of martial law across Russia is “largely legal theater” that attempts to legitimize the Russian military’s current and future mobilization plans.

The Russian Casualties

Despite the lack of significant large-scale offensive operations, the Russian military continues to suffer heavy casualties in Ukraine. It’s a war of attrition, and the Russian military is losing as we speak.

To be sure, the official Ukrainian claims are biased. For example, there hasn’t been a day since the start of the war in which the number of claimed Russian troops killed hasn’t been rounded up, whether that is 370 troops, as is the case on Thursday, or 250 or 500, as was the case on other days.

And yet, even with this apparent inconsistency, the Ukrainian claims of Russian casualties are a reasonable estimate of the number of men and weapon systems the Russian forces have lost in the war so far. A good chunk of those numbers have been corroborated by independent open-source investigators, such as the Oryx website, which adds a destroyed, damaged, or captured Russian weapon system to its very comprehensive lists of Russian casualties only after having visually verified the location of the item.

Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Thursday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 66,650 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 269 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 243 attack and transport helicopters, 2,567 tanks, 1,646 artillery pieces, 5,255 armored personnel carriers, and infantry fighting vehicles, 372 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 16 boats and cutters, 4,005 vehicles and fuel tanks, 189 anti-aircraft batteries, 1,311 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 147 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 329 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.

Civilian Casualties 

The war also continues to take a heavy toll on the Ukrainian civilian population. According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, since the start of the conflict, more than 6,300 civilians, including almost 400 children, have been killed due to Russian attacks.

Just the missile and drone salvos of the previous days added around 100 more killed civilians on that list and took out approximately 30 percent of Ukraine’s critical infrastructure.

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.



  1. Friend

    October 20, 2022 at 10:41 am

    Oh ya, they are now referring more to the use of weapons of mass destruction in post 1997 NATO countries rather than tactical nukes to the same effect. Nukes are just first what comes to mind as a WMD, but of course they could use chemicals. They’ve already used their biological WMD in Covid, but that mostly failed to achieve the desired effect, in spite of they antivaxx loby spewing mass Chinese and Russian propaganda.
    Technically, then, it’s not the tactical nukes that will be used to escalate, in part because using gas agents instead would sow much less of a panic of further escalation in the West, and France and the UK in particular, and thus aso send a communique to the MAGA Americans that they are safe and that Russia is their buddy.
    Which is basically what Trump’s been saying. So now we are getting a clearer picture of the escalation

  2. Friend

    October 20, 2022 at 10:56 am

    Come to think about it, it wouldn’t surprise me if it was France, the UK, and the U.S. that suggested to Russia that a gas based WMD be used instead as an off-ramp which gives Putin what he wants while forcing no further action from NATO. So, we are basically looking at Mother Russia spanning from the Rhine to the Pacific. Now that’s a dumb move that will backfire eventually, as it will open up some strategic gaps that will allow Russia to construct a warm-seas port in either Syria or Egypt. From there, it can go around Africa and around the straights of Gibraltar rather than force its way through. From Angola or West Africa, it’s a simple hike to Brazil, in geographical terms, which is already heavily dependent on imports of fertilizer from Russia.

  3. marcjf

    October 20, 2022 at 12:55 pm

    There are a few theories on why martial law was declared:

    1 It had been already and post-referenda this was a legal tidy up;

    2 To damp down partisans and pro-UAF “spies”;

    3 To be able to evacuate/deport the population and use their housing as barracks for a build up;

    4 To be able legally to mobilise local manpower via conscription in self-defence units;

    5 To better control under a legal umbrella the local population in what is a war zone.

    My take is all the above.

    And re Ukrainian numbers on Russian losses, they bear as much relation to reality as Russian ones on the UAF.

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