Ukraine War Update: The new year is approaching fast, but the war in Ukraine looks like it will go on for many more months. On the 308th day of the conflict, the Russian military is focusing on its defense in the east, where a key logistical hub is in the crosshairs of the Ukrainian military.
The Russian Military Is Bleeding Out in Ukraine
Meanwhile, the Russian military continues to suffer extremely heavy casualties on the ground. It is the infantry that is suffering the heaviest losses, with an average of around 500 men killed every day, according to the official Ukrainian figures.
Indeed, in the last week alone, the Russian forces have lost approximately 4,000 men—which is the equivalent of almost an entire U.S. Brigade Combat Team.
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Wednesday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 103,770 Russian troops (and wounded approximately twice to thrice that number), destroyed 283 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 267 attack and transport helicopters, 3,017 tanks, 1,999 artillery pieces, 6,037 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 418 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 16 boats and cutters, 4,660 vehicles and fuel tanks, 211 anti-aircraft batteries, 1,707 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 179 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 653 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.
The Fight in the East
In September, in a surprise and lightning counteroffensive, the Ukrainian forces managed in only a week to liberate hundreds of square miles of territory.
The speed of the Ukrainian advance caught the Russians and the world off guard. Important towns and cities such as Izium, Lyman, and Kupyansk were liberated. However, the Ukrainian forces eventually lost their momentum, and the Russian military managed to stabilize the frontline around Kreminna.
Since then, the Russian military has worked hard to fortify its positions around Kreminna and Svatove in anticipation of a renewed Ukrainian counteroffensive when the weather permits it.
Kreminna is located to the southwest of Svatove, another important logistical hub. But for the Ukrainian forces to be able to surround Svatove, Kreminna must first fall.
“In recent days, Russia has likely reinforced the Kremina sector of its frontline in Luhansk Oblast, as it comes under continued pressure from Ukrainian operations. Kremina has been relatively vulnerable since Ukrainian forces advanced through the town of Lyman, to the west, in October,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war.
“Russia has constructed extensive new defences in the area and will likely prioritise holding the line here. The area is logistically important for Russia’s Donbas front and it is also a significant town in Luhansk Oblast; the Kremlin claims that the ‘liberation’ of this area is a core justification for the war,” the British Military Intelligence added.
The Battle for the Skies
Although there are daily combat sorties on both sides, close air support of troops is usually through indirect fire because of the prevalence of anti-aircraft systems that make it prohibitive for aircraft to operate freely.
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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.