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100,000 Casualties: How Long Can Putin Fight in Ukraine?

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

Ukraine War Update: On day 260 of the war in Ukraine, the Russian military is withdrawing from Kherson after months of relentless bombardment by the Ukrainian military.

The Ukrainian military is rushing forward in the south, liberating tens of settlements as the Russian rearguard is trying to give time for the complete withdrawal of the Russian forces.

Ukraine Nightmare: Russia Withdraws from Kherson

After several weeks of troop drawdowns and evacuations from the western bank of the Dnipro River, the Russian forces have withdrawn from the area. They have left the capital of the province, Kherson City, open for liberation by the Ukrainian forces.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and General Sergei Surovikin, the top commander of the Russian campaign in Ukraine, announced the decision on Wednesday. The Ukrainian military hasn’t reached the city yet and remains skeptical of the Russian statements.

Kherson City was the largest Ukrainian urban center captured by the Russian military, and it fell with surprising (even suspicious) ease within the first week of the war.

This is another major, yet anticipated, reversal of the Russian campaign. And yet, the withdrawal from Kherson shows that the Russian military is adjusting to the realities of the conflict. Time and again in the past, Russian commanders ordered their troops to fight for unattainable goals, with the result in thousands of casualties and hundreds of weapon systems lost. Kherson certainly had the potential for another such action. After all, Russian President Vladimir Putin boastfully (but illegally) annexed the city and the neighboring land to Russia only a few weeks ago.

The fact that the Russian commanders got their message through to Putin that it is better to live and fight another day rather than lose troops for an indefensible city should concern the Ukrainians, if, of course, we assume that this decision marks a turn in the Russian strategy rather than being a random act of reason.

In the end, this is another victory for the Ukrainian forces and their strategy. The Ukrainians expertly used to their benefit their technological advantage in long-range fires, namely the much celebrated M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS), and M-777 155mm Howitzers with the M982 Excalibur long-range precision-guided artillery round, to disrupt, degrade, and destroy the Russian lines of communication and supply. Anything of serious military importance in and around Kherson has received the deadly attention of Ukrainian artillerymen over the past four months.

Russian Casualties in Ukraine

The Russian forces, meanwhile, continue to suffer heavy casualties, with the latest U.S. military estimates suggest that Russian forces have lost up to 100,000 troops killed and wounded.

Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Thursday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 78,690 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 278 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 260 attack and transport helicopters, 2,804 tanks, 1,805 artillery pieces, 5,682 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 393 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 16 boats and cutters, 4,242 vehicles and fuel tanks, 205 anti-aircraft batteries, 1,499 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 159 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 399 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.

Ukraine Social Media

From Twitter Screenshot: Intense mechanized combat footage of Ukrainian Marines using tanks and Turkish-donated BMC Kirpi IMV against Russian forces during the ongoing Kherson offensive.

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.