“Dark day” is a term used in military history to note when an army suffered significant losses on the battlefield – and for the Russian military, there have already been a few dark days in its war in Ukraine.
Still, this month has been among some of the darkest yet.
Fighting has continued in mid-winter cold with gray skies over the Eastern Donbas region.
Just this week Vladimir Putin’s forces lost yet another top military leader, as Major-General Dmitry Ulyanov, 44, was killed in a firefight.
The 44-year-old, who only returned to active service after retirement, had previously commanded the 98th Guards Airborne Division. He was recently leading a regiment of motorized infantry from Tatarstan when he was killed.
Though he is the first high-ranking commander to be killed in the fighting in recent months, he was least the tenth senior commander to die in Ukraine since Russia launched its unprovoked invasion nearly a year ago.
Several major generals and two lieutenant generals have been confirmed killed in Ukraine, while there have been claims by Kyiv that several other high-ranking officers also died in the fighting, though those losses haven’t been independently verified.
General Magomed Tushaev, a Chechen Special Forces Leader was the first high-ranking officer killed after his unit was ambushed on February 26, 2022 – just two days after the invasion began.
Lieutenant-Generals Andrey Mordvichev and Yakov Rezantsev – who were killed days apart in March of last year – are the highest-ranking officers to die in the war.
More Than 1,000 Troops Lost in Ukraine
Ulyanov was among the nearly 2,000 Russian troops to be killed already this month. According to the latest figures from the General Staff of Ukraine, Russia lost 1,030 soldiers on Monday alone – the greatest loss in a 24-hour period of the war to date. That would bring the death toll of Russian forces to 133,190 as of Tuesday evening.
The number of fallen Russian soldiers has not been independently verified, and the toll released by Kyiv is typically higher than Western estimates, but it is still believed that Russian losses in the year-long war have still neared and likely exceeded 100,000 dead.
That would be almost seven times the number of “official” losses in its decade-long conflict in Afghanistan, and nearly double the U.S. losses in the war in Vietnam.
Ukraine also claims that it destroyed 14 tanks and 28 armored personnel carriers (APCs) among other vehicles.
More Dark Days to Come?
The government in Kyiv has warned that Moscow has likely been regrouping, and has massed hundreds of thousands of troops on the border for an upcoming offensive – which could begin to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the invasion.
Reports suggest that upwards of 500,000 Russian soldiers are now preparing for a late-February or early March attack.
Yet, given how the initial invasion fared and the fact that many of those Russian soldiers are reservists and conscripts only called up last year – most with inadequate training and only substandard equipment – it is unclear how effective a new offensive will actually be.
Russia has been pushed back before, and while it hopes to reverse its losses, the Kremlin should likely expect more dark days, while those at home should prepare themselves for grim news about their loved ones.
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.