The Ukrainian military continues to push in the east in search of a breakthrough. But its efforts are frustrated by a Russian military that continues to dig in and create extensive fortifications. On day 296 of the war, the Ukrainians are winning.
The Russian Casualties in Ukraine
With a little over two weeks remaining in the year, it looks like the Russian forces will lose more than 100,000 men killed in 2022, according to the official Ukrainian numbers. Over the past 72 hours, the Russian military has been losing an average of more than 600 men a day and between two to three times that number in wounded.
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Friday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 97,270 Russian troops (and wounded approximately twice to thrice that number), destroyed 281 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 264 attack and transport helicopters, 2,980 tanks, 1,946 artillery pieces, 5,952 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 410 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 16 boats and cutters, 4,563 vehicles and fuel tanks, 211 anti-aircraft batteries, 1,648 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 172 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 592 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.
Russian Fortifications in the East
According to the British Military Intelligence, satellite imagery continues to show the extent of the Russian defensive positions along the contact line in the east and south. In the east, the Russian forces have prioritized their efforts around the town of Svatove, a key logistical hub. The only offensive Russian operations are taking place in the Donbas, mainly in the vicinity of Bakhmut.
The Ukrainian military has been trying to reach Svatove since it launched its lightning counteroffensive in the east in early September. But Kreminna is standing in the way, and that is where most of the fighting is taking place right now.
“The Russian constructions follow traditional military plans for entrenchment, largely unchanged since the Second World War. Such constructions are likely to be vulnerable to modern, precision indirect strikes,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war.
The Ukrainian forces are likely to use their long-range fires advantage—particularly the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) and M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS)—to destroy the Russian fortifications in advance of a Ukrainian counterattack on the ground. To be sure, destroyed fortifications, especially anti-tank defenses, can still delay an advancing force due to the debris on the ground.
“The construction of major defensive lines is further illustration of Russia’s reversion to positional warfare that has been largely abandoned by most modern Western militaries in recent decades,” the British Military Intelligence added.
The Russian military started building the defensive lines most likely because it knew that it couldn’t do anything more at the moment. Moscow lacks the mobile reserves to conduct large-scale offensive operations, and the best it can do is try to stem the Ukrainian advances.
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.