The war in Ukraine continues with no respite for the two combatants. As the one-year anniversary of the wholescale Russian invasion approaches, the Russian military is steadily upping the pressure on the ground.
On day 350 of the war in Ukraine, there has been little progress on the ground but much bloodshed.
There Is Still Fighting in the South
Although there hasn’t been any large-scale fighting in the south since the Russian military evacuated the western bank of the Dnipro River and Kherson City in November, there has been significant activity in the area.
Both sides have been conducting reconnaissance and raids in the island complex and waterways that make up the Dnipro River Delta. Ukrainian special forces have been raiding Russian positions in the night, while Russian forces have been using small boats to maintain a presence on a number of key islands in the area.
For Moscow, besides early warning, there is little strategic benefit in having large numbers of troops in the islands. Indeed, the Ukrainian forces have used their superior long-range fires, including the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS), and M982 Excalibur precision-guided artillery shell—fired from the M-777 155mm howitzer—to take out Russian outposts and troop concentrations.
For Kyiv, a presence in the islands offers an opportunity to monitor and harass Russian forces in the area and tie them down, preventing them from deploying elsewhere on the front.
“Both sides are likely aiming to maintain a presence in these areas to control maritime access to the strategically important river and to provide warning of any attempt by their adversaries to launch a major assault across the river,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war.
Both the Russian and Ukrainian militaries have most likely a small presence in the Kinburn Spit, a protruding landmass at the very end of the Dnipro River that guards the entry to the Black Sea.
“It is highly unlikely that Russia will attempt an assault crossing of the Dnipro: it would likely be extremely complex and costly,” the British Military Intelligence added.
Russian Casualties in Ukraine
For another day, the Russian forces suffered extremely heavy casualties. On Wednesday, the Russian military lost more than 900 killed and wounded troops, according to the official Ukrainian estimates—which are now corroborated to a large degree by U.S. and Western assessments.
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Wednesday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 134,100 Russian troops (and wounded approximately twice to thrice that number),
Destroyed equipment includes: 295 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 285 attack and transport helicopters, 3,253 tanks, 2,236 artillery pieces, 6,458 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 461 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 18 boats and cutters, 5,112 vehicles and fuel tanks, 228 anti-aircraft batteries, 1,961 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 211 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 796 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. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.