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Why the Winter War in Ukraine Will Be a Bloodbath

Switchblade Drone
Switchblade drone. Image Credit: Industry handout.

On the 285th day of the war in Ukraine, the two adversaries are preparing for the long winter as the Russian military continues to suffer extremely heavy casualties.

The Russian Casualties in Ukraine: Update 

The Russian military continues to suffer heavy losses in Ukraine.

In the first week of December, the Russian forces lost almost 3,000 troops killed in action (and between 6,000 to 9,000 wounded), 68 vehicles and fuel tanks, 28 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 20 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 12 artillery pieces, 10 tanks, and 3 attack and transport helicopters, including a Ka-52 Alligator attack chopper that was shot down by a shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile in the Donbas over the weekend.

Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Monday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 91,690 Russian troops (and wounded approximately twice to thrice that number), destroyed 281 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 264 attack and transport helicopters, 2,924 tanks, 1,914 artillery pieces, 5,900 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 395 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 16 boats and cutters, 4,497 vehicles and fuel tanks, 211 anti-aircraft batteries, 1,582 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 163 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 531 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.

It Could Be Hell: The Coming of the Winter in Ukraine

Despite the onrush of winter, the Ukrainian Armed Forces have indicated that they will continue with their counteroffensive operations.

The Ukrainian military is better prepared and equipped to conduct offensive operations than its adversary due to the constant stream of logistical support from the West and also the familiarity with the region and environmental conditions.

It makes sense for the Ukrainian forces to keep up with their counteroffensive operations.

Right now, Ukraine has the strategic advantage, and Moscow is on the run almost all across the battlefield, with Bakhmut in the Donbas being the only exception.

“Ukraine’s ability to maintain the military initiative and continue the momentum of its current operational successes depends on Ukrainian forces continuing to conduct successive operations through the winter of 2022-2023,” the Institute for the Study of War assessed in its latest operational update of the war.

On the other hand, the Russian forces will want a quiet winter. A relatively quiet winter with defensive warfare will offer the Russian military an opportunity to rearm and refit and prepare for the next fighting season once the snow has melted.

However, to be effective in the famous Rasputitsa, the mud season after the melting of the snow, the Russian forces will need to be able to operate cross-country. Last year, when the war began, the Russian military lacked that capability and was forced to fight on the roads.

What Happens Next?

As a result, its numerical and mechanized advantage was effectively negated, and the Ukrainian forces had an easier job targeting and taking out Russian armored columns with anti-tank missiles and artillery.

So, the Russian forces will need to do some serious work to get ready for the next fighting season and also hope that the Ukrainians won’t continue to attack over the winter.

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.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. A. Landmesser

    December 6, 2022 at 1:46 pm

    Yeah after 600 years of winter the Russians and Ukes are so stumped by the weather and spring thaw.

    -The Russians have no ready reserve system comparable to the US system. Once they suffer losses there are no effective replacements.

    -The scale of Russian losses is demonstrated by them refitting T-64 tanks, a lamentable design fit only for Ethiopia, Afghanistan or Zimbabwe.

    -Russians like Hitler believed their opponents could be defeated by a swift, overwhelming strike. They had no alternative plans or options revealing the failure of their planning and intelligence but especially logistics.

    -The poor training and organization of the Russian army has been demonstrated by their lavish use of artillery. Their armor, infantry and failure of combined arms operations demonstrate a leadership class lacking in initiative, organization, and foresight. We have witnessed the failure of the Russian navy and air forces as well.

    -An army that terrorizes civilians deliberately, former comrades, hasn’t been seen since Shermans bummers raped their way through Georgia. Nothing says success than such behavior and demonstrates the state of discipline like random acts of violence, looting, and mayhem. But this may be inherent in Russian character, even Napoleon’s wounded officers stated their bandages were ripped off by Russian officers searching for valuables to plunder.

    -One would have expected the use of highly trained special forces to seize communication centers, headquarters, airfields, arms depots, transportation and energy hubs. Nothing of this seems to have occurred.

    -The scope and scale of ammunition usage will leave Russia weak and prostate, if they were worried about being encircled by hostile states pulling off Putin’s psycho mask insure that Russia is faced with enemies of competitors who do not like their neighbor.

    -By the way does anyone believe those experts, who told us the war would be over in a week and that the PRC would invade Taiwan.

    I love non combatants who have no knowledge of history; who consistently equate hardware numbers with performance and strength rather than cohesion, morale, the cause, the background of the opposition. The British and Russians did this in Afghanistan. The British in South Africa and the USA. Lincoln in forcing the civil war. Germany in taking on the UK, Russia and the USA. The Japanese knowing that they were outnumbered and outproduced by the USA but that the Americans of 1941 were the Americans of 2022. Islam attacking Malta and France. The British at Sterling Bridge where the Scots showed the world that the best equipped army in the world can be defeated by motivated forces intelligently handled.

    All were humilated and paid dearly.

  2. Humored

    December 6, 2022 at 11:05 pm

    Ukraine claims to have inflicted more casualties than Russia has deployed troops in Ukraine and we are supposed to believe that?

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