The war in Ukraine continues for the 327th day. Here is an update on the latest developments:
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Despite claims by the Russian Ministry of Defense, fighting in the small salt mining town of Soledar in the Donbas continues.
The Russian Casualties in Ukraine
The extremely heavy casualty rate that the Russian forces suffer in Ukraine continues. On average, the Russian forces lose approximately 500 soldiers and Wagner Group mercenaries every day.
Although Moscow has created a reserve of approximately 150,000 troops for later offensive operations once the weather permits it, the high rate of casualties on the frontlines might force the Russian Ministry of Defense to deploy some of its reserves to stabilize the front.
It also remains to be seen whether the Ukrainian military will wait to absorb the Russian blow before it launches its own planned counteroffensives.
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Monday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 116,080 Russian troops (and wounded approximately twice to thrice that number), destroyed 286 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 276 attack and transport helicopters, 3,118 tanks, 2,099 artillery pieces, 6,204 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 438 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 16 boats and cutters, 4,870 vehicles and fuel tanks, 220 anti-aircraft batteries, 1,872 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.
Sweden, Finland, Turkey, and NATO
Meanwhile, the back-and-forth between Sweden, Finland, and Turkey over the admission of the former two to NATO continues.
Turkey is the only NATO member that hasn’t ratified the decision to admit the two Scandinavian countries to the transatlantic alliance.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan demands the extradition of around 130 people—mainly Kurds—to Turkey in order for Ankara to acquiesce and allow Sweden and Finland to join NATO. However, the two Scandinavian countries have been reluctant to bend their own laws to appease Turkey, which has a very poor human rights record.
After witnessing the brutal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by Russia, Stockholm and Helsinki, both of which border Russia (Finland by land, Sweden by sea), abandoned decades of neutrality and applied to join NATO.
In both countries, an overwhelming majority of the citizenry wants to join the transatlantic alliance.
Despite being a NATO member, Turkey continues to pursue a very ambiguous strategy that often helps American and Western adversaries, including Russia and Iran.
However, the sale is very unlikely to pass through a Congress that is becoming increasingly more aware of Turkey’s hostility and anti-U.S. and anti-Western sentiments and policies.
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.