The Russian campaign in Ukraine is heading from bad to worse, with Ukrainian forces advancing across the battlefield. On day 254 of the war in Ukraine, the Ukrainian military is making good gains in the south and the east as the Russian forces are falling back.
In the south, in particular, the Russian forces are starting to evacuate Kherson City. Should the Ukrainian military liberate the capital of the Kherson Province, Russian President Vladimir Putin will suffer another humiliating defeat. Negotiations are still not an option.
The Russian position in Kherson City is unattainable as the Ukrainian forces have a significant advantage on long-range fires, and thus the ability to target and destroy Russian logistical and communication functions at will. The Russian forces have no defense against the deadly accurate Ukrainian M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and M270 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS).
No Major Russian Offensive Operations Anytime Soon in Ukraine
Over the past week or so, Russian forces have been suffering significant casualties. Indeed, the Russian military has been averaging more than 500 troops killed every day (meaning an additional 1,000 to 1,500 wounded if we account for the standard two to three wounded for every killed), according to the official Ukrainian claims, which they have been fairly accurate up till now. Clearly, the Russian military can’t sustain such a more significant number of casualties daily and continue to be effective on the battlefield.
At the very least, the Russian forces can’t conduct any major offensive operations, not now nor in the near future. Effective large-scale offensive operations require fresh and well-equipped troops. Russia has neither, for it has been sending any reinforcements it gained from the partial mobilization to the front in a hodgepodge manner to patch up holes on the frontline and prevent the collapse of entire fronts.
Russian Casualties in Ukraine
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Friday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 74,840 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 277 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 258 attack and transport helicopters, 2,750 tanks, 1,772 artillery pieces, 5,580 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 391 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 16 boats and cutters, 4,174 vehicles and fuel tanks, 201 anti-aircraft batteries, 1,450 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 155 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.
High Casualties Lead to Poor Morale
It’s no surprise that the high Russian casualties have destroyed morale among the Russian ranks. The incompetence of the Russian officer corps, coupled with the strategic failures of Russian political leadership, have sapped the confidence of the Russian soldier on the ground. Defections and insubordination run rampant.
As a result, the Russian military has established blocking units in Ukraine to stop retreating units, according to the British Military Intelligence.
“These units threaten to shoot their own retreating soldiers in order to compel offensives and have been used in previous conflicts by Russian forces. Recently, Russian generals likely wanted their commanders to use weapons against deserters, including possibly authorising shooting to kill such defaulters after a warning had been given. Generals also likely wanted to maintain defensive positions to the death,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war.
Of course, such tactics only destroy morale further.
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 Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.
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