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Putin Is Sweating: The Russian Military Is Being Hammered in Ukraine

Russian TOS-1 MLRS. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
Russian TOS-1 MLRS. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

The war in Ukraine continues for the 331st day. The fighting around Bakhmut continues, with the infamous mercenary company Wagner Group assuming an increasingly bigger role. 

Meanwhile, in Germany, a meeting of NATO defense ministers is giving more wind to the Ukrainian security assistance effort, with 50 countries vowing to support Ukraine for as long as is needed. 

The Russian Casualties 

Another day of fighting means another day of heavy casualties for the Russian forces on the ground. Wanger Group mercenaries and Russian soldiers are suffering equally, with literally hundreds of them dying or getting wounded every single day. 

Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Friday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 119,300 Russian troops (and wounded approximately twice to thrice that number), destroyed 287 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 277 attack and transport helicopters, 3,139 tanks, 2,129 artillery pieces, 6,241 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 442 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 17 boats and cutters, 4,903 vehicles and fuel tanks, 220 anti-aircraft batteries, 1,886 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 190 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 749 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses. 

The war has certainly gone poorly for Moscow. From a plan to capture Kyiv and topple the Ukrainian government in just three days, the Russian military is now installing air defense weapon systems all around Moscow to protect key buildings. Images from Russia show Pantsir-S1 medium-range surface-to-air air defense weapon on top of the Russian Ministry of Defense. It is not clear why the Kremlin decided to take this step. The Ukrainians have shown a willingness and capability to strike deep within Russia. 

The Wagner Group

With the Russian military failing time and again to achieve its objectives, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been increasingly turning to the infamous private military company Wagner Group for solutions. 

Funded and led by the controversial oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Wagner Group has been instrumental in the fighting on the ground in Ukraine. 

In the last days of 2022, Wagner Group formally registered as a legal entity under the Russian Unified State Register. According to the British Military Intelligence, Wanger Group declared its core activity as “management consultancy.”

Wagner Group’s rise on the public stage has been meteoric lately. Indeed, before September, Prigozhin didn’t acknowledge ownership of the private military company.

“Wagner’s owner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has likely partially funded the organisation via inflated government contracts awarded to his other companies. It is not yet clear to what extent the ‘PMC Wagner Centre’ entity will be used to administer Wagner’s paramilitary activity. Private Military Companies (PMCs) remain illegal in Russia, despite protracted discussion about reforming the law,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war.

“Wagner almost certainly now commands up to 50,000 fighters in Ukraine and has become a key component of the Ukraine campaign. The registration likely aims to maximise Prigozhin’s commercial gain and to further legitimise the increasingly high-profile organisation,” the British Military Intelligence added. 

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.