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Is Russia’s War in Ukraine Going on ‘Winter Break’?

S-300. Image Credit: Russian Ministry of Defense.

Ukraine War Update: On the 292nd day of the war in Ukraine, the Ukrainian forces struck a Russian headquarters, killing and wounding scores of Russian troops. 

On the other hand, the Russian forces launched another wave of missile attacks against Ukrainian cities and critical infrastructure, taking out the electricity at Odesa, Ukraine’s third-largest city and biggest port.

Russian Casualties in Ukraine: Updated Numbers

Russian forces continue to suffer heavy losses in Ukraine, though, in the past few days, the rate of casualties has slowed down considerably.

For most of November and the first week of December, the Russian forces were losing an average of around 500 men killed every day.

That number is now around 300 men, which is still considerable. 

Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Monday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 94,760 Russian troops (and wounded approximately twice to thrice that number), destroyed 281 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 264 attack and transport helicopters, 2,966 tanks, 1,929 artillery pieces, 5,928 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 397 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 16 boats and cutters, 4,544 vehicles and fuel tanks, 211 anti-aircraft batteries, 1,617 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 169 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

Winter Operational Pause 

According to senior NATO officials, the Russian military will seek an operational pause over the winter in order to regain the initiative in the spring.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told the Financial Times last week that Moscow is looking to “freeze” the fighting on the ground so that its forces can regroup and prepare for a large-scale offensive in the spring. 

Putin, however, doesn’t seem willing to stop the fighting.

The Russian leader has been pushing the Russian forces to capture Bakhmut in the Donbas. The town is more of a political target rather than a strategic one after the Russian setbacks in the east. 

“Putin’s current fixation with continuing offensive operations around Bakhmut and elsewhere is contributing to Ukraine’s ability to maintain the military initiative in other parts of the theater. Ukraine’s continued operational successes depend on Ukrainian forces’ ability to continue successive operations through the winter of 2022-2023 without interruption,” the Institute for the Study of War assessed. 

HIMARS Strike On Wanger Group HQ

On Sunday evening, the Ukrainian military struck a forward headquarters of the infamous private military company Wanger Group with an M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). Reports from the ground suggest that the Russian mercenaries have suffered dozens of casualties. 

The Wagner Group has been taking the lead in the fighting in Bakhmut, though recently, it has been reinforced with Russian mobilized reservists.

If the strike took out any senior Wagner Group leaders, that would certainly affect the operations of the group against Bakhmut. 

The M142 HIMARS remains one of the most fearsome weapon systems on the battlefield, and the Russian forces still don’t have a response.

Since the M142 HIMARS entered the battlefield in the summer, the Russian military has failed to take out even one of them. 

READ MORE: Why Putin Won’t Start a Nuclear War in Ukraine 

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 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.