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Smart Bombs: Military, Defense and National Security

Ukraine War Update: Russia Masses Forces in Belarus, Leopard Tanks to Ukraine?

U.S. Army Rangers assigned to 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, fire off a AT-4 at a range on Camp Roberts, Calif., Jan 26, 2014. Rangers use a multitude of weaponry during their annual tactical training. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Rashene Mincy/ Not Reviewed)

On day 322 of the war, the Russian military gathers forces in Belarus while Ukraine hopes to get advanced tanks from the West to enable its upcoming counteroffensives. 

Also, Chief of the General Staff General Valery Gerasimov has assumed overall command of the Russian forces in Ukraine, replacing General Sergei Surovikin.

Leopard 2 and Challenger 2 Main Battle Tanks to Ukraine?

On the Ukraine security assistance front, Poland stated that it wouldn’t provide Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine unless there is a concentered international coalition.

Finland was the first to say that it is willing to send Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine, but only if other European countries join in.

Germany, which manufactures the Leopard, has also signaled a willingness to send tanks to Ukraine.

Also, the United Kingdom is deliberating sending Challenger 2 tanks. 

Meanwhile, Kyiv keeps asking for more advanced tanks to support its upcoming counteroffensives

Russian Forces in Belarus 

Over the weekend, the Belarussian Ministry of Defense announced that a significant tactical flight exercise between Belarussian and Russian forces would take place from late January to early February. The Russian military has deployed more than a dozen helicopters in Belarus, including Mi-8 transport and Mi-24 and Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopters. According to the British Military Intelligence, some of the helicopters sport the “Z” war marking that Russian forces are using on the ground in Ukraine. 

“The new deployment of Russian aircraft to Belarus is likely a genuine exercise, rather than a preparation for any additional offensive operations against Ukraine,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war.

For some months now, the Russian military has been gathering forces in Belarus. 

“Although Russia maintains a large number of forces in Belarus, they are mostly involved in training. They are unlikely to constitute a credible offensive force,” the British Military Intelligence added.

In December, the Ukrainian Military Intelligence (GUR) sounded the alarm and warned that the Russian military might try to mount a large-scale offensive sometime in January or February. The Ukrainians specifically mentioned that Kyiv might be one of the targets. If that assessment proves accurate, Belarus will once more be an important proxy of Russia. When the invasion began, after all, the main Russian thrust aimed at Kyiv was staged from Belarus.  

Despite being an obvious Russian proxy, Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko has managed to keep his country out of the war in Ukraine. To be sure, he has enabled the war by allowing Russian forces to operate from within his borders and to launch ballistic and cruise missiles against Ukraine. But Lukashenko has kept his sizeable military outside from direct fighting. 

The Russian Casualties 

Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Wednesday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 112,960 Russian troops (and wounded approximately twice to thrice that number), destroyed 285 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 275 attack and transport helicopters, 3,094 tanks, 2,078 artillery pieces, 6,159 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 437 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 16 boats and cutters, 4,826 vehicles and fuel tanks, 217 anti-aircraft batteries, 1,862 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 184 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 723 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses

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. 

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.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. michael

    January 12, 2023 at 12:50 pm

    Where is the list of Ukrainian personnel and equipment destroyed??

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