Russian Casualties in Ukraine: Update
Over the past few days, the Russian military has suffered very heavy casualties, especially in the south of the Donbas around Bakhmut and Avdiivka.
Indeed, since Friday, the Russian forces have lost more than 3,000 troops (killed), 58 tanks, 128 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 55 vehicles of other types, 32 artillery pieces, 14 unmanned aerial systems, and 6 helicopters. The majority of these casualties have taken place in the Donbas.
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Tuesday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 72,470 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 276 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 257 attack and transport helicopters, 2,698 tanks, 1,730 artillery pieces, 5,501 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 383 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 16 boats and cutters, 4,143 vehicles and fuel tanks, 197 anti-aircraft batteries, 1,415 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 154 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 397 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.
The Fight for Bakhmut
The Russian forces have been trying but failing to capture the two cities for months now. In Bakhmut, in particular, the infamous private military company Wagner Group has taken the lead in operations from the Russian military and is conducting daily attacks against the Ukrainian city. Despite their fewer numbers, the Ukrainian forces there have been able to largely contain the Russian attacks, losing only a few miles of territory in the span of over four months.
Ukrainian commanders on the ground say that the Russians are throwing waves of Wagner mercenaries against the Ukrainian forces in an attempt to attrite the defenders and wear them down for subsequent assaults. The situation in Ukraine has elevated Wagner Group to a sort “second military” that is often competing for resources with the Russian military.
Russian Telegram and the War on the Ground
The war isn’t going well for Russian President Vladimir Putin. The repeated failures of the Russian forces to achieve their objectives in Ukraine, as well as the shortcomings of the overall Russian strategy, have created domestic criticism—a dangerous thing to happen to an authoritarian ruler.
A lot of the criticism has come from the Russian messaging app Telegram, where Russian military bloggers document and follow the war with daily news updates and analyses. Generally, these military bloggers offer a more accurate and sober view of the conflict that, surprisingly, reflects the situation on the ground. As the Russian military floundered in Ukraine, military bloggers have directed their ire toward Putin and the Russian military.
Now, after the brazen Ukrainian attack on the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet, Putin has suspended Telegram in Russia because of the backlash. It doesn’t look good if hawkish pro-Kremlin military bloggers, who are nominally on Putin’s side, are criticizing his leadership and the conduct of the war.
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 Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.
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