Meanwhile, the Ukrainian forces continue with their successful defense in the Donbas and are getting ready to resume offensive operations once the weather permits it.
On day 309 of the Russian invasion, the Ukrainian military continues to have the upper hand.
But the war is far from over.
Russian forces are still dangerous, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly indicated his commitment to take the war to the end, even if it lasts months and years.
The Russian Casualties in Ukraine
On the ground, Moscow is suffering horrific casualties. Over the past 24 hours alone, the Russian forces have lost close to 800 men killed, according to the official Ukrainian numbers.
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Thursday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 104,560 Russian troops (and wounded approximately twice to thrice that number), destroyed 283 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 268 attack and transport helicopters, 3,018 tanks, 2,004 artillery pieces, 6,047 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 423 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 16 boats and cutters, 4,675 vehicles and fuel tanks, 211 anti-aircraft batteries, 1,717 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.
Ukrainian Drone Strikes
The Ukrainian military continues to target Russia with long-range drone strikes. This is the third drone strike within Russia since the war started. Although militarily, the Ukrainian attacks haven’t had a large impact, on the political and psychological front, Kyiv has gained a lot of points by showing that it can strike deep behind enemy lines.
In the early hours of Boxing Day, the Ukrainian Air Force used a drone to attack Russia’s Engels Air Base. Located approximately 400 miles from the front lines, the Engels Air Base is one of the main nuclear strategic bomber fleets of the Russian Aerospace Forces.
“Russia has long given a very high priority to maintaining advanced ground-based air defences, but it is increasingly clear that it is struggling to counter air threats deep inside Russia,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war.
Going back all the way to the Cold War, the Russian military has long touted its air defense capabilities. But the war in Ukraine is exposing the vulnerabilities in the Russian air defense umbrella, with a lot of weapon systems getting moved close to the frontlines to protect field headquarters and command and control posts.
“One challenge for Russia is probably the exceptional demand on its fleet of modern, medium-range air defence systems, such as SA-22 Pantsir, which would typically be expected to take a major role in countering UAVs. As well as providing point defence for strategic sites such as Engels, these systems are currently required in large number to protect field headquarters near the front line in Ukraine,” the British Military Intelligence added.
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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.