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Smart Bombs: Military, Defense and National Security

Welcome to Hell: Putin’s War in Ukraine Is a Bloody Mess

T-90M. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

The war in Ukraine goes on as the winter approaches. On day 269 of the conflict, the Russian military is still very much on the defensive while the Ukrainian forces are pushing forward in the east.

The Russian Casualties

Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Saturday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 83,880 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 278 fighter, attack, bomber and transport jets, 262 attack and transport helicopters, 2885 tanks, 1867 artillery pieces, 5815 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 393 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 16 boats and cutters, 4,368 vehicles and fuel tanks, 209 anti-aircraft batteries, 1,536 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 161 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 480 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.

The Ugliness of War in Ukraine

Some grim footage has emerged from Ukraine showing the ugliness of war. Several Russian soldiers are seen surrendering to the Ukrainians at a village in Luhansk province when one Russian soldier comes out of the building and opens fire on the Ukrainians, who shoot back and kill all the Russians, including the troops who were surrendering.

However, it is not clear if the Russians who were surrendering were killed during or after the incident. If killed during the incident, then the act wouldn’t constitute a war crime because it took place during combat. But if they were killed afterward in cold blood, then it would indeed be a war crime.

In a rather ironic move—considering the rampant war crimes committed by Russian forces all over Ukraine—the Kremlin has opened a war crimes investigation on the Ukrainian military and is trying to identify the Ukrainian troops who were there.

The Economics of the War 

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the United States led a coalition of more than 37 countries in imposing heavy sanctions and export controls on Russia. The West has frozen approximately $300 billion of Russian assets because of the war.

The effects of the sanctions have varied, but the Russian defense and aerospace industry has been hit the hardest. Also, the Russian Ministry of Defense has also been forced to source money through unconventional means, such as debt issuance.

On Wednesday, the Russian government conducted the most significant debt issuance on a single day in its history, raising approximately $13.6 billion. Debt issuance has been a key mechanism to keep up with defense spending and the war in Ukraine. Indeed, Moscow has had to alter its defense spending for 2023, declaring a defense budget of about $84 billion, which is a 40 percent increase from what had been planned for next year before the war.

“Debt issuance is expensive during periods of uncertainty. The size of this auction highly likely indicates the Russian Ministry of Finance perceives current conditions as relatively favourable but is anticipating an increasingly uncertain fiscal environment over the next year,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate 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. 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.