However, it isn’t going well, which is why the Kremlin hasn’t said anything.
Meanwhile, the conflict is just ten days away (today is day 355 of the war) from its one-year anniversary.
Russian Casualties in Ukraine
Casualty figures are a reliable way to determine whether a combatant is attacking or defending.
We know that Ukraine isn’t attacking, so the large numbers of Russian casualties over the past few days are likely the result of an offensive operation.
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Monday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 138,340 Russian troops (and wounded approximately twice to thrice that number)
Destroyed equipment includes: 296 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 286 attack and transport helicopters, 3,283 tanks, 2,290 artillery pieces, 6,492 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 465 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 18 boats and cutters, 5,150 vehicles and fuel tanks, 234 anti-aircraft batteries, 2,007 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 217 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 857 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.
Russian Defenses in the South
In conjunction with repeated assaults in the Donbas in the direction of Bakhmut over the last four months, the Russian military has also been digging in and constructing extensive defenses.
The lighting Ukrainian counteroffensive in the east in the first days of September caught everyone off guard.
The Russian forces saw the Ukrainians rapidly liberating hundreds of square miles of territory in just a matter of few days.
A few weeks later, the Ukrainians repeated the drill in the south, liberating much of Kherson province and the entire capital, Kherson City.
The depleted Russian units on the frontline could do little but watch, retreat, surrender, or get destroyed.
So, once the situation stabilized, the Russian military embarked in an urgent campaign to bolster its defenses across the line of contact.
Satellite imagery shows that despite the ongoing Russian offensive in the Donbas, Russian units continue to bolster their defensive fortifications, especially in the Zaporizhzhia province in the south.
Once the Ukrainians launch their anticipated counteroffensive with their new Western tanks and infantry fighting vehicle, they will be looking for weak spots in the Russian defenses.
Zaporizhzhia and Kherson provinces will be at the center of the fighting if the Ukrainians decide to launch their main thrust from the south. In the case of Kherson, the Ukrainians would have to conduct a large-scale amphibious operation to cross the Dnipro River and establish a beachhead on the eastern bank. But Zaporizhzhia is more easily accessed and could be at the center of the Ukrainian counteroffensive.
“A major Ukrainian breakthrough in Zaporizhzhia would seriously challenge the viability of Russia’s ‘land bridge’ linking Russia’s Rostov region and Crimea; Ukrainian success in Luhansk would further undermine Russia’s professed war aim of ‘liberating’ the Donbas,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war.
With a frontline more than 700 miles long and limited resources, the Russian commanders have the difficult job of choosing where to commit their time and energy.
“Deciding which of these threats to prioritise countering is likely one of the central dilemmas for Russian operational planners,” the British Miliary Intelligence added.
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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.